While the trailer at Veterans Park housing people who are experiencing homelessness might be moving soon, the people residing there will likely not be going anywhere.
At an emergency meeting Tuesday (May 17) town council decided when the trailer is removed, they will allow the residents to continue camping there.
The ATCO trailer currently providing shelter was funded through an emergency winter shelter fund and that funding has run out.
Mayor Gladys Atrill said the town does have a requirement to make some space available for people who are not adequately housed.
“There isn’t housing available for some. And so we’re just trying to make the best of the situation we have. There have been changes in terms of court decisions over the last while, one option is just not to say people can’t camp, that’s not an option anymore. We have a requirement to make some room available. The town doesn’t have a lot of pieces of property, we have our parks, etc., but, you know, we don’t have a lot of vacant land.”
She said that previously people used to camp on a piece of property behind the Meadows assisted living facility sometimes called ‘the green space’ or ‘the snow dump.’
The Town had intended to try to put some safety supports in there and allow people to camp there. However, pushback from area residents against the location quashed that plan.
Coun. Casda Thomas said in the emergency meeting that support workers visiting their clients feel safer in a more open area than that presented by the Meadows location and Councillor Benson pointed out that the ground is very wet there right now.
The funding for the trailer expired in March, but so far, every week it has been extended and Atrill isn’t sure how much longer it will be available.
Council agreed that allowing people to camp at Veteran’s Park is not perfect, but is the best solution for right now.
“It’s a really tough position to be in for the town, but we’re not alone. Every town is in this position. We just have to sort of figure out our way through this.”
Atrill added that ideally, it would be good to identify a location that might work longer-term, and it would be good to come up with a structure that would create a more permanent solution for people who are vulnerable or that cannot find housing but lack of funding and lack of town-owned land is making that difficult.
“This is not easy for anyone,” she said. “And we have an obligation as the municipality to make some space available.”