PEI

City to seek answers from P.E.I. government as possible tent city relocation sites draw attention

The City of Charlottetown is urging the province to answer questions circulating about the relocation of homeless camps, also known as tent cities, in the downtown area.

Councillor says he and some residents of his ward oppose relocation to their neighbourhood

This summer, city and provincial officials pledged to find alternative housing for people living at unofficial camp sites in Charlottetown, but there has been no announcement yet. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

The City of Charlottetown is urging the province to answer questions that have been circulating about the relocation of homeless camps, also known as tent cities, in the downtown area.

Coun. Terry MacLeod brought the issue up during the city's monthly council meeting Monday. He's under the impression that the Park Street COVID-19 testing clinic, which is also a P.E.I. government garage, is a possible temporary relocation site for the homeless camp by Holland College.

"As far as I understand, it's outside the government garage at this present time for the short term," MacLeod said.

"For the longer term, it could have something to do with inside the building, or [they could] tear it down and do modular homes."

This summer, city and provincial officials pledged to find alternative housing for people who have no choice but to live in tents in Charlottetown, but there has been no announcement yet. 

A resident from the Park Street area came by after Monday evening's council meeting to speak specifically with MacLeod and Mayor Philip Brown about the idea of the government garage being a relocation site. The resident would not speak on the record.

MacLeod said the province has been meeting with the city looking for land to relocate, and has plans in the works for potential sites. He said he'd prefer it wasn't at the government garage.

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown wouldn't confirm that the government garage is a prospective site, but he did say there are 'lots of options' on the table. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

"The government garage sits on Riverside Drive… it's the welcoming spot of the city coming in from the east end of the Island. What's the first thing you're going to see coming into the City of Charlottetown?" he asked.

"There's numerous reasons why that site wouldn't work."

He also said residents of his ward, like the person who showed up after the council meeting, have been telling him they don't want the campers relocated to the area either. 

"I've been given a pretty stiff talking to by my residents that that area isn't the best area, and I have to agree with them," he said. 

'It's a provincial matter at this time'

After speaking privately with the upset resident at the meeting, Brown told CBC News he's looking to speak with Social Development and Housing Minister Matthew MacKay on Tuesday about homelessness in Charlottetown as well as possible relocation sites.

It's a provincial matter at this point in time.— Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown

"When it comes to putting people in fixed-roof structures, that's a provincial-federal issue, so we're part of this working group [with the province] to find out what are some of the options," Brown said.

"Councillor MacLeod, what he wants to do, is he'd like to have some of the residents of that area, Beach Street, Park Street, Kensington Road, come in to meet with this working group and talk about 'What is the future going to look like?'"

Brown wouldn't confirm that the government garage is a prospective site, but he did say there are "lots of options" on the table.

"It's a moving target. I'm surprised with some of the information that's already out there, because it's my understanding that the province is trying to keep this moving forward," he said.

"We want to be part of finding that solution — but, again, who deals with it? It's a provincial matter at this point in time."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cody MacKay

Multi-platform Journalist

Cody MacKay is a writer, editor and social media producer for CBC News on Prince Edward Island. From Summerside, he's a UPEI history and Carleton masters of journalism grad who joined CBC P.E.I. in 2017. You can reach him at cody.mackay@cbc.ca or on social media as @CodyBMac

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