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‘Where else are we gonna go?’: Homeless Summerside residents looking for new shelter after city cleans up gazebo


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SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — A gazebo in downtown Summerside, simply off Heather Moyse Drive, isn’t just a spot for folks to sit down and loosen up.

For quite a lot of the town’s homeless residents, it was a spot to sleep. That was, till Aug. 22, when metropolis workers got here by to take away the tarps and different gadgets to wash up the positioning. In addition they eliminated the benches and picnic tables.

Ben Jelley, one Summerside resident who discovered shelter within the gazebo, stated he now worries about the place he’ll be spending his nights.

“It’s sort of silly,” stated Jelley, who had slept there for a couple of month. “The place else are we gonna go?”

Jelley stated that he, and others sleeping within the gazebo, had been annoyed with the town for the choice.

As a volunteer with the Homeless Helper initiative in Summerside, Elysha Whitlock shares Jelley’s frustrations. 

Each night time, she stated, round 5 to 10 homeless folks had sought shelter in that gazebo.

Throughout the day, she added, a few of these folks would usually grasp round a smaller coated seating space on the nook of Central and Water streets, subsequent to Websites and Bytes – however it was moved in mid-August.

On Aug. 22, workers with the City of Summerside cleared out a gazebo off Heather Moyse Drive. Until then, a handful of the city's homeless residents had been using the space to sleep. - Contributed
On Aug. 22, staff with the Metropolis of Summerside cleared out a gazebo off Heather Moyse Drive. Till then, a handful of the town’s homeless residents had been utilizing the house to sleep. – Contributed

Chatting with SaltWire Tuesday morning, Whitlock had solely been involved with a number of purchasers relating to the gazebo clean-out. She had stayed on website to tell those that weren’t round on the time of the cleanup.

“We’ll probably simply keep right here as a result of they’re all gonna ultimately return to this gazebo to find their belongings all gone and all the seating eliminated,” stated Whitlock.

After police stopped by the positioning on Monday, Aug. 21, Whitlock stated she was underneath the impression that the homeless folks could be allowed to proceed sleeping within the gazebo as long as they eliminated their tarps.

Per JP Desrosiers, the town’s deputy chief administrative officer, although, folks had been by no means permitted to remain in a single day within the small park the gazebo is positioned in, because it closes at 10 p.m.

“Tenting shouldn’t be permitted in any of our parks and inexperienced areas. It’s not a wholesome scenario for the particular person tenting, it’s not a wholesome scenario for our avid park customers throughout the town,” stated Desrosiers.

“It’s not that I don’t sympathize with these individuals who simply merely don’t have a spot to go. We’re keen to work with the province … we all know it’s a necessity, and we’ve simply not seen any motion thus far.”

JP Desrosiers is the deputy chief administrative officer for the City of Summerside. - SaltWire file
JP Desrosiers is the deputy chief administrative officer for the Metropolis of Summerside. – SaltWire file

The morning of Aug. 22, Whitlock obtained a name that the town had returned to the gazebo, taking issues away. She and different volunteers with the Homeless Helper arrived on website to assist gather belongings.

“We had been in a position to salvage fairly a number of of the tents and sleeping luggage,” she stated. “So, now we simply have the job of making an attempt to get them again to the purchasers that had been utilizing them.”

Finally, Whitlock needs the town would have given a heads-up so she and different volunteers may have helped the homeless folks take away their belongings earlier than they had been tossed.

Desrosiers, in the meantime, stated advance discover had been given within the type of Monday’s go to from the police.

The world, stated Desrosiers, was cleared to make it extra seen for police and preserve the house secure. Whereas unable to touch upon why the benches had been eliminated, Desrosiers famous that that they had been spray-painted with graffiti.

“The plan is definitely to not dismantle the stage and it’s definitely to not take away the house,” stated Desrosiers. “It was simply primarily to wash it up. We have now full intentions of returning it to regular.”

Benches and picnic tables have been removed from a gazebo in downtown Summerside. - Contributed
Benches and picnic tables have been faraway from a gazebo in downtown Summerside. – Contributed

Nonetheless, he acknowledges that Summerside has an rising homeless inhabitants and needs to see the province do extra to assist fight the problem.

“We’re desperately ready for the province to react and supply wraparound companies and 24-hour shelter companies right here in Summerside,” he stated.

“We repeatedly hear of companies being elevated in Charlottetown, however everyone knows the problem with homelessness isn’t just remoted in Charlottetown – it’s proper throughout the complete province.”

There are emergency shelter companies out there in Summerside, together with LifeHouse shelter for girls and a newly opened males’s shelter on Winter Road, however each companies have reported to be fairly busy and working at or close to capability. 

Kristin Gardiner is a reporter with SaltWire in Prince Edward Island. She could be reached by electronic mail at [email protected] and adopted on X @KristinGardiner.

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