Ottawa homeless encampment dismantled
Tent community near Parliament Hill sprang up after rooming house fire
Officers with the National Capital Commission and Ottawa police removed an encampment within sight of the Peace Tower Tuesday, the culmination of a months-long standoff between the 20 or so homeless people who have been living there and officials who have been trying to find them somewhere else to go.
Officers descended on the encampment in a wooded area near Ottawa's Bayview LRT station in the early morning hours and began removing tents, suitcases, bicycles and propane tanks, loading the items into large containers and a front-end loader waiting nearby.
The encampment straddled city property and NCC land.
In a statement, the NCC, which oversees federally owned land in the capital region, said the makeshift community's remaining residents had accepted offers of temporary accommodation from the city.
The NCC said it had asked the residents to leave due to growing concerns over their health and safety, including "restricted access to emergency medical services" and the increasingly cold weather.
An eviction notice posted by the NCC on Sunday told remaining resident any items left behind after Monday would be removed and kept in storage for 15 days.
On Tuesday morning, one former resident who returned to the site scolded officers for removing his belongings.
"Where's my shit? Where's my stuff? What'd you guys do with my stuff?" the man called out.
"They've ruined all of our stuff. They've ruined it," he told reporters.
Someone has just run into the camp asking where his items have gone. “They’ve ruined all of our stuff. They’ve ruined it.” He says after. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ottnews?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ottnews</a> <a href="https://t.co/ftUWgK5cxV">pic.twitter.com/ftUWgK5cxV</a>—@KimberleyMolina
A member Overdose Prevention Ottawa posted a video to social media asking for more time to allow former residents to collect their belongings, bu the NCC appears to be ignoring that request.
The encampment, about 2.5 kilometres from Parliament Hill, appeared in the spring after a fire at a nearby rooming house left several tenants homeless.
The men and women who set up tents at the site said they wanted to stay close to familiar social services, and said they didn't want to stay in city shelters.
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Eviction rumours grew
Rumours of the eviction grew after a tent caught fire in Novemeber, and the NCC posted notices at the camp on the weekend warning anyone who stayed behind would be removed by police.
The NCC said temporary accommodation had been found for all the camp's former residents, who have now been registered with the city to find them permanent housing.
"It's never easy to see people sleeping outside. I understand why people don't always want to go to a shelter," said Coun. Catherine McKenney, whose downtown ward borders the area.
"So, the fact that people choose to sleep outside as their safest option really is a testament to us not doing enough work to ensure that we have the right types of supports for people who need them."
With files from Kimberley Molina