Meagher Park fenced off, cleared out by city staff, police say

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Halifax Regional Police say the park was secured with fencing for upcoming rehabilitation work. (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)
Halifax Regional Police say the park was secured with fencing for upcoming rehabilitation work. (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)

Halifax Regional Police say Meagher Park has been officially cleared out nearly a month after a deadline passed for people living on park grounds to vacate the area.

Police sent out a release early Friday morning stating the park had been "physically secured" by Halifax Regional Municipality staff for upcoming remediation work.

A metal fence has now been put up around the park's perimeter.

Authorities were also on hand for "support and assistance." Once it was confirmed there were no longer any people living in the park, police say city staff ensured other housing options were being used as they continued to make arrangements to relocate belongings.

"This morning, following the completion of all those steps, and consistent with the commitment to exercise a measured approach, the park was secured with fencing for upcoming rehabilitation work," the statement said.

This comes after a notice was sent to people living in the park, telling them to vacate by July 17 due to "deteriorating health and safety conditions."

"HRP officers took a patient, measured and supportive approach throughout as the process unfolded while acting in a supportive capacity," the statement added.

Halifax Regional Police declined a request for comment.

Mixed reaction

Coun. David Hendsbee said he's glad the park was cleared in a "peaceful resolution."

"I believe the last of the campers that were there moved of their own accord," Hendsbee said. "It went smoothly."

Victoria Levack, an activist who says she speaks on behalf of people who used to live at the park, challenged the idea that it was a peaceful exit.

"The city is going to try to spin this — we believe — as a peaceful closure, and again, it was not peaceful. People were threatened and forced out through the threat of violence ... police used their power on vulnerable individuals to threaten them into submission," Levack said.

Some people who live near the park have reported violence, verbal threats and health and safety issues from people staying at the park. A staff report to Halifax council this month said there have been reports of fighting, noises, threats to neighbours, slurs, and other disturbing behaviour from the park.

"I think there are two sides of the coin as to who was being harassed," Hendsbee said.

Joanna Marsh moved into the area a month ago. She said she thinks the closure of the park is a "genuine tragedy."

"It is indicative of a larger systematic lack of care that our society shows toward the unhoused," Marsh said.

Marsh said people should be more empathetic to people experiencing homelessness since she thinks it could happen to anyone.

Hendsbee said now the focus will be rehabilitating the park, which needs to be "dug up and replanted." He hopes anyone experiencing homelessness will use the designated sites around Halifax and Dartmouth.

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