The province and the municipality have been working together to come up with a solution to offer shelter and protect those living in tent encampments before an upcoming storm that’s set to bring torrential rain and strong winds.
There are currently 12 encampments that are set up across the municipality.
Assistant Chief of Emergency Management for the city, Erika Fleck, said that there would be a comfort centre located downtown that will be providing food and water, as well as an emergency shelter at the George Dixon Centre.
“We also have ground search and rescue teams this evening that will be being deployed and they will be going to all of the areas that we know that there are encampments currently to offer residents a place to provide transport and a shelter if they wish to go,” Fleck said during a press conference on Monday afternoon.
John Griffin, has been a resident at Peoples Park since August and said he and the other residents were thankful that Fleck stopped by and told them about the plan herself. However, Griffin says he feels obligated to stay and “ride out the storm.”
He said he feels responsible to look after the shelters built by Halifax Mutual Aide and remove any branches that may come down during the storm.
There are other various reasons why some don’t want to stay in the over night shelter.
“They’re untrustworthy of the shelter system. Or they have trauma related to events that went on there, so they don’t feel safe there.” said Vicky Levack a spokesperson for P.A.D.S. Community Network.
“Some have decided to stay and again those ground search and rescue teams will check on those folks throughout the night. We’re not going to force those folks to leave unless there is an immediate life and safety concern if the situation with the weather severely intensifies,” said Fleck.
The residents and volunteers at Peoples Park have been working tirelessly to prepare for the storm by putting tarps over the tents and tying them down with cement blocks, steel pegs and even pumpkins.
“The neighbourhood and surrounding areas have been supportive by bringing more tarps and the steel pegs. Tent pegs are really needed and we’ve received quite a bit so far,” said Griffin.
Levack says that she is worried for those who are deciding to stay out in the elements at their encampments.
“I don’t mean to be hyperbolic but I think we’re going to see a lot of people get hurt. A lot of people get sick and some of them may die,” Levack said.
“So, you know, 150 mm of rain is nothing to scoff at.”