Halifax closing Meagher Park, unhoused people to be moved

A park in west end Halifax that became the site of an encampment last fall is closing to the public and removing unhoused inhabitants in the process.

The Halifax Regional Municipality announced in a statement to media Tuesday afternoon that Meagher Park will be closing, effective immediately. The closure, which is expected to last throughout the summer, will see the park fenced and returned to its original state while people experiencing homelessness are diverted to what HRM is calling designated outdoor sheltering locations.

Citing the decline of safety conditions in the park, HRM is calling the current encampment “an increasingly vulnerable situation.”

Individuals experiencing homelessness are now being diverted to one of four designated sites located on Barrington Street, Lower Flinn Park, Green Road Park, and Geary Street in Dartmouth. HRM staff is calling these sites, where only tents are allowed, “safer” than a small structure with a door and lock.

Individuals currently sheltering at Meagher Park have a deadline of July 17 to vacate the premises. According to the municipality, an undisclosed number of people sheltering in the park have accepted housing from service providers working on behalf of the province.

For special projects manager Max Chauvin, the reconstruction of the Meager Park is overdue.

"The park has been used heavily for a year," he said, noting that it's full of mud and facing a significant rodent population. "It's simply not a place that's safe for any use."

HRM Mayor Mike Savage agrees.

"Our goal is to move people in a way that they find suits their needs as well as everybody else's," he said. "They will have more than they have currently at Meagher Park, and they deserve that, and that's what we'll provide."

HRM’s statement noted that municipal staff visited Meagher Park Tuesday to advise them of the park’s closure, explain the transition period, and offer information on available resources.

The sites are also equipped with portable toilets and garbage cans, while services like potable water, storage boxes, and needle boxes continue to be added.

“The municipality’s priority has been, and continues to be, treating those experiencing homelessness with dignity and continuing to find ways to provide support them within our organization’s capacity and scope,” the statement reads.