More tiny temporary shelters removed in Halifax, but this time by the group that put them up
Liam Donnelly rushed to carry away his belongings Saturday morning as the tiny temporary shelter where he had been living since April was being taken down by Halifax Mutual Aid, the group that built his and 13 other shelters throughout Halifax.
Thursday afternoon, Donnelly had moved into a hotel room paid for by the province after the Halifax Regional Municipality gave ultimatums to the people living in the shelters and Halifax Mutual Aid, to either remove or vacate the structures by July 13, or the city would take matters in its own hands.
"I signed the papers with Shelter Nova Scotia and I don’t know what went on after that, but by this morning there’s people here removing my stuff while they think I’m at a hotel," Donnelly said.
He had been living in the shelter at the end of Union Street near Fort Needham Memorial Park in Halifax since April.
"It’s not ideal. It’s not affordable housing," he said.
"I had to rely on friends for washrooms, for things like that. There’s no cooking facilities, but it’s a waterproof shelter. It’s a place to have my stuff and not lose it that was locked."
The volunteer group Halifax Mutual Aid built the 14 shelters scattered across the city.
As of Saturday evening, there will be nine shelters left. The group's spokesperson Campbell McClintock said they made the decision to deconstruct two of the shelters because occupants had accepted an offer to move into a hotel and because the group couldn’t contact anyone on the waitlist soon enough.
"The safest decision to protect the shelters and house people in the future was decided to deconstruct them for now and regroup about when they might be needed again," McClinktock said.
The municipality also removed three shelters on Friday. One was in Crathorne Park in Dartmouth, while the other two were in Victoria Park and Raymond Taavel Park in Halifax.
In a statement released Friday, it said the shelters were vacant and in the case of the Dartmouth structure, the city said the occupant had accepted temporary accommodations offered by the province.
But McClintock said other people had moved into two of the shelters.
"Two of those were occupied by people who were just out for the day, just out doing their thing and we’ve spoken with one of those individuals and they spent the last night out in the rain in the tropical storm," McClintock said.
The city has maintained the shelters are illegal and that the province and outreach workers are trying to offer temporary housing options that can bridge to permanent housing. For now, that means staying at a hotel.
In a statement released Friday, it also said “the deadline of July 13 was not a commitment by the municipality to refrain from removal of the temporary shelters prior to this date – rather, it was a notification that the shelters must be vacated by occupants and removed by those who installed them no later than July 13.”
When asked whether Mutual Aid will remove any more shelters,
McClintock said it will coordinate with people who are moving out so a plan can be made to protect the shelters and the people living in them.