City orders Moncton homeless to leave tent site near former shelter

Click to play video: 'Moncton residents living in tents ordered to leave'
Moncton residents living in tents ordered to leave
A number of people who have been living in tents near Moncton's emergency shelter have been ordered by the city to leave. Callum Smith has the details – Apr 18, 2019

Some Monctonians sleeping in tents spent Thursday packing their belongings, after a notice informed them they had to move.

The notice comes as the city begins its spring cleanup.

The social inclusion co-ordinator for the City of Moncton said he’s confident a permanent “damp” shelter will be established in the city, but it won’t be coming right away.

This notice was posted for “people dwelling in tents” behind the recently-closed emergency shelter on Assomption Boulevard. Callum Smith / Global News

Vincent Merola spoke to reporters as some homeless tenters, forced to vacate the land behind the city’s former emergency shelter, packed their belongings Thursday.

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“We’ve been assured by the province and I fully believe that there is going to be another permanent shelter that’s damp that will be set up by the fall,” said Merola.

READ MORE: Looming closure of Out of the Cold shelter sparks calls for a ‘wet’ shelter in Moncton

Two Out of the Cold shelters closed April 1, forcing some people like Ian Johnson to sleep in a tent.

“I tried a couple abandoned houses with some friends, but it was too nerve-wracking,” he said. “You couldn’t sleep and you always wondered if the RCMP was going to bust through the front door and arrest you for trespassing.”

The city offered to help move belongings and take them to storage at Harvest House.

WATCH: UNB nursing students attempting to care for the feet of the province’s homeless

Click to play video: 'UNB nursing students attempting to care for the feet of the province’s homeless'
UNB nursing students attempting to care for the feet of the province’s homeless

Johnson, as other individuals who were sleeping on the lot off Assomption Boulevard have said, indicated that it comes down to policies and conditions at the permanent shelters in the city.

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“I felt like I was being locked up in a box,” he explained. “So I never stayed.”

Ian Johnson says policies at shelters in the city are too strict. Callum Smith / Global News

Cal Maskery, the founder and executive director for Harvest House Atlantic, said visitors need to be inside by 9 p.m. to keep the city safe.

“We don’t have people going out at night time because that’s when trouble happens in our city,” he said. “When everything’s closed at night time at 1 or 2 in the morning, what are people doing out there that late? Our recovery program (visitors), they’ll tell you what they used to do at 2, 3 in the morning.”

READ MORE: Moncton group to sleep outside overnight to raise awareness for homeless

Because he also doesn’t agree with policies at the shelters, Doug Wilson says he’ll “move down the road and set up again.”

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“This is not the happiest day for me to be here to have to do this but … we’re being as respectful as we can, and compassionate and caring as we can,” said Merola. “We’ve given people ample notice and we are here not to evict people, we’re here to help people move stuff.”

Vincent Merola, the city’s social inclusion coordinator, said the land near the Riverfront Trail is a very public space and the municipality needed to follow its “operating procedure when it comes to tents”. Callum Smith / Global News

Merola acknowledged rules at the shelters are too much for some.

“It’s not perfect for everybody and that’s why we see tents,” he said.

It appeared to be a relatively peaceful move, although residents are certainly frustrated as they search for where they’ll sleep next.

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