Nfld. & Labrador

Homeless man living in a tent near Bowring Park

A man working to mark areas for brush cutting off Pitts Memorial Drive in St. John's says finding a homeless man living in a tent in the woods was like "a slap in the face."
Peter Gregory stumbled on the scene of what turned out to be a homeless man's small camp site, outside the borders of Bowring Park in St. John's. (Submitted by Peter Gregory)

A crew with Transportation and Works got a surprise earlier this week, when they came across a homeless man who had set up a tent in the woods in St. John's.

Peter Gregory says workers were out planning for brush cutting on Pitts Memorial Drive when he came upon a small campsite set up in the wooded area.

Gregory said he saw a man with a torn backpack head off into the bush, and assumed he was headed for a walking trail.

You just realize how good you really got it, you know what I mean, when all this fella had was his tent and his knapsack and a few blankets.- Peter Gregory

"Then a while after I was up in the woods … and I see fresh tracks in the woods so I followed the tracks and it led to a tent which wasn't very far from our ribbons," he said.

"There was a lot of discarded blankets and comforters froze onto the ground, there was clothes hanging up in a tree, and it looked like someone was in the tent because it was all closed up so I shook it and asked if there was anyone in there and I just heard someone mumble."

Gregory said whoever was in the tent didn't come out to talk to him, so he went to tell his supervisor what he saw.

According to Gregory, his supervisor was also uneasy about leaving the man there, so they went to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

"First they were saying that it could be someone of interest they were looking for at the time … and told me to stay clear of the area," said Gregory.

'Like a slap in the face'

However, after police talked to the man, who it turns out is from Twillingate, they realized he wasn't wanted — just living in the woods outside the fence around Bowring Park.

"It kind of blew me away because you kind of hear about the homeless but you don't give it a second thought, in a way, because you're ignorant to the fact. But what I see is he was there a while, never had a campfire or nothing like this for heat or nothing," said Gregory.

"You just realize how good you really got it, you know what I mean, when all this fella had was his tent and his knapsack and a few blankets."

Gregory said at this time of year, with the winter weather harsh, it's hard to imagine someone living in a tent.

"We hear a lot about homelessness in the news, but you kind of think it don't happen in our backyard — you think it's somewhere else … it's like a slap in the face to actually come across something like this."

Gregory added that police encouraged the man to move on to a different location, and said they would be back to check on him in a couple of days.

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