Fredericton Police are following reasons why some homeless people are still living in tents

A Fredericton Police Force map shows where officers have responded to calls about people living in tents in 2021 and 2022.  (Fredericton Police Force - photo credit)

A Fredericton Police Force map shows where officers have responded to calls about people living in tents in 2021 and 2022. (Fredericton Police Force – photo credit)

Fredericton Police Chief Martin Gaudet says officers will start tracking the reasons some people are living in tents rather than going to a homeless shelter.

It’s a move Gaudet pledged to take during a Public Safety Committee meeting on Thursday after city councilors told him the data could help reveal whether services for the homeless need to be changed or improved.

“It would be interesting to hear what [the reasons] are,” Gaudet said after the meeting.

“If we get, say, the top 5 or the top 10 [reasons]to enable ongoing dialogue with government and other communities… Well, that’s how you build a safety net. That’s how you build services, right?”



Homelessness is a problem that New Brunswick cities have been grappling with in recent years. Nonprofit organizations have scramble to set up shelters to keep people out of the cold, and municipalities are experimenting with solutions to the problem.

In Moncton, advocates have recently called for the creation of a “wet shelter” to serve as an overdose prevention site and provide services to help drug users who are often turned away from the four existing shelters.

The map shows the extent of the problem

On Thursday, Gaudet briefed members of Fredericton’s Public Safety Committee on the force’s new plan of action to address concerns from citizens and businesses about safety of pathways, homelessness, commercial theft and crime at large.

Part of it was that he showed a “heat map” with icons representing all the places around the city where officials have responded to calls about people living outside in tents, either alone or in groups, over the past two years.

Fredericton Police

Fredericton Police

The map shows officials have responded to dozens of such calls across the city, with concentrations in downtown and suburbs on the South Side and along the trail system on the North Side.

“These are places where … our civilian staff and officers have been called out to solve problems with tents. That could be one tent, six tents, five tents,” he said, adding that they don’t include any major camps.

In 2021 Fredericton Police allowed approved tent camps in select areas of the city but ended this approach in 2022 due to safety concerns.

Last year, police officers dismantled a handful of tent camps across the city to reflect the force’s departure from its previous approach.

Gaudet said when police get a call about someone living in a tent, they answer with a social worker to check on what’s going on and try to connect the tent occupant with housing services.

“Some of these recordings and conversations take days to bear fruit,” Gaudet said. In some cases, they refuse and officials will act, forcing them to pack up their tent and move on. “And three days later they’re somewhere else,” Gaudet said.

Data could help understand the “root cause”: Councilor

Cassandra LeBlanc is one of the council members who asked that the force begin tracking the reasons some people don’t have access to shelters.

“You can’t solve a problem without understanding the root causes,” LeBlanc said after the meeting.

“And so I think it’s incredibly important for us to understand that, so that we can work provincially and federally to get better policies and better services and hopefully see a future where there’s just less.” are these experiences happening in our city.”

Aidan Cox/CBC

Aidan Cox/CBC

LeBlanc, who represents a community that covers part of downtown, said she’s heard anecdotes about why some people live outside.

“While we are incredibly grateful for the shelters, it could be a difficult place to live,” she said.

She said some homeless people have pets or spouses that they would have to give up or live apart if they turned to an animal shelter.

Others are heavily addicted to drugs and may prefer living outside where they can use drugs rather than going to a shelter and suffering the effects of withdrawal.

“I think, you know, we really need to dig deep into the reasons people are choosing to live in tents over using our services and just use that data to improve our services,” she said.

LeBlanc said there are likely other organizations and agencies already trying to understand why some people live outside.

She said asking police to collect data on the issue could help support investigations already underway.


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