As downtown 'tent city' dismantles, one occupant says 'people will have to realize there’s an epidemic starting'
Published Thursday, September 19, 2019 2:29PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 19, 2019 8:08PM MDT
George Bain is on the move again.
A week ago, some of Edmonton' homeless who had grouped outside near the Bissell Centre were advised they would have to leave in a week.
That week has nearly passed.
“I don’t like confrontation,” the 61-year-old tells CTV News Edmonton reporter David Ewasuk.
Bain says he has only been homeless for the past month.
“Everybody tends to sweep the homeless under the carpet and not pretend, 'Oh, it’s not there—but it is here. People will have to realize there is an epidemic starting.”
Bain carries a sleeping bag, toiletries and a backpack full of clothes, along with the public's preconceived notion of who he is, he says, based on the noticeable tattoo on his left cheek.
“They see the tattoo, they see the long goatee," he tells Ewasuk. "That’s all personal choice.”
Bain looks Ewasuk up and down.
“I don’t say you look funny with your khakis and your tie and your jacket. Hey, live and let live, man.”
Bain says he was a multi-trade worker for much of his life and that his homelessness is the result of a relationship that ended badly.
He applauds the City of Edmonton’s plan to fund a 900-bed facility as a long-term solution for many of Edmonton’s homeless population, but says it won’t help him—or the many others clearing out of Tent City—on Thursday.
“There’s no housing, there’s not enough shelters, there’s not enough beds,” Bain tells Ewasuk.
“How many buildings are empty that could be put to use, that the city could lease for X amount of dollars?”
Bain is walking, but he doesn’t yet have a spot for Thursday night. He says those who have been outdoors longer than he have helped him survive this past month, some of whom are afflicted by drug addiction, others struggling with mental health issues.
“It’s adaptation: you learn, you don’t learn, you fall between the cracks and you get run over, you better learn and you better learn quick.”
Bain heads west where the tents have thinned out considerably over the past week.
Others in the temporary camp tell us they may be allowed to stay until the end of next week.
But for many, like George, it’s moving day for Edmonton’s homeless.