OTTAWA - A new group of residents refuse to leave Ottawa’s “tent-city” behind Bayview Station until the city offers them suitable housing.

“If we have somewhere to go of course we’ll leave,” says one of the residents Chris, “we just want to be housed, not ignored.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) who owns the land issued an evacuation notice on Sunday.  Demanding the tents be removed and the residents move out.

“This notice means that all persons who are camping must stop doing so, and that all tents or unauthorized structures must be removed,” reads the statement signed by NCC Capital Stewardship V-P, Anne Menard.

It goes on to say, “After today (Sunday), the NCC or any peace officer may take the necessary steps to enforce this notice.”

The encampment was erected after an April rooming house fire left more than a dozen homeless.

Sources say all the rooming house fire victims have now been offered permanent or emergency housing.  Since the camp was put up though dozens of more people have moved in, they too are demanding housing.

“This isn’t just about victims of a fire,” says the a member of the group advocating for the residents, Overdose Prevention Ottawa’s Leila Attar, “there’s people in this city that are homeless and this is a larger issue.”

“They have nowhere to go so I don’t know where the city or the NCC expects people to move their belongings,” Attar adds.

Sources say while the current “new” residents of the tent-city deserve housing, it’s not “fair” for them to “jump the line” ahead of the hundreds of others who’ve been waiting months or even years for permanent housing.  

In a joint statement to CTV, Emergency and Protective Services GM Anthony Di Monte and City of Ottawa Housing Director Shelley VanBuskirk say:

“The City notified the National Capital Commission (NCC) that it had significant concerns about the safety of people staying at the tent encampment on their land due to the increasingly cold weather, in addition to a recent fire at the site. The further onset of colder weather, and the use of propane as a heating and cooking source, greatly increases the risk of another fire and the location of the site makes it difficult for first responders to access.

Out of concern for the health and safety of those living there, the NCC, supported by the City, issued a verbal notice on Friday, December 6 that the site needed to be vacated.

The City has secured permanent housing for some people staying at the tent encampment in addition to offering temporary housing options, which have included transport to emergency shelter, and hotel rooms until permanent accommodations can be secured. These options were turned down by the individuals of the tent encampment last week. 

All individuals at the tent encampment have had their housing and support needs assessed and been matched to the City’s Housing First program. The City and its partners will continue to offer assistance while working to secure permanent, affordable housing options for all, recognizing that everyone has unique needs for housing and support services.

The City is committed to finding private market housing for those in need. There continues to be an urgent need to identify other landlords willing to support these efforts by offering permanent housing. Interested landlords can contact the City by calling 3-1-1.”

NCC officials won’t comment on when or if they will actually remove residents from the encampment.