Premier Tim Houston ‘agrees’ with HRM’s decision to impose encampment evictions

Houston said HRM encampment eviction notices are within 'municipal jurisdiction'

3 min read
caption Premier Tim Houston answers questions about encampment evictions after Thursday's cabinet meeting.
Meig Campbell

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston agrees with the decision of the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) to enforce evictions to those living in several homeless encampments later this month.

“We agree with HRM, that people should be inside where it is warm and where they have access to those supports and services,” Houston said Thursday.

Following a cabinet meeting, when asked about the controversial move by the city, Houston said he was aware of the decision, that it is within municipal jurisdiction, and he wants the province to focus on providing shelter to those being evicted from the encampments.  

On Wednesday, those living in five homeless encampments received formal notice from the city to “vacate by February 26,” citing safety concerns after a couple of fires in the tents in the last few months and a commitment to “supporting the province to develop long-term housing solutions.”  

At a news conference on Wednesday, Mayor Mike Savage said the city is working to offer “safe, secure and warm accommodation” and said the encampments were always a temporary solution until more housing options became available.

According to the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, as of 2024, there are over 1,100 “actively homeless” people in the city. The same report said 900 of these people are “housed.” According to the Department of Community Services, there are 355 shelter beds in the HRM.

Houston said that there is an open and frank dialogue between the province and the city, and his government supports their decision to remove these encampments.

Community Services Minister Trevor Boudreau, responding to a question about the involvement of the province in the shutdown, said they were only made aware of this decision “in the last couple of days.”

caption Community Services Minister Trevor Boudreau answers questions from reporters about shelter needs for encampment dwellers.
Meig Campbell

He reminded reporters of the new spaces that have recently opened up, including more shelter vacancies at the Halifax Forum and the pallet units soon to open in Lower Sackville.

Liberal Leader Zach Churchill said during Thursday’s scrum that the province needs to be held accountable and provide more for the people in the encampments.

“It’s the province’s responsibility to ensure there is wraparound services and social assistance for these folks. So, I heard him say it was municipal jurisdiction but that is not entirely accurate.”

NDP Leader Claudia Chender expressed her own disappointment with the province’s handling of the housing crisis and the encampment evictions during the scrum.

“We need more housing, we need more deeply affordable housing, we need more supportive housing,” Chender said, “We have not seen this government step up in even half of the way that they need to to address that crisis.”

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