MONCTON, N.B. — The minister of a church in downtown Moncton, N.B., says a weeklong stay by a group of homeless people camped next to the sanctuary quietly came to an end over the weekend.
Rev. Chris VanBuskirk said in an interview that the church had allowed about 20 people to camp on the grounds of St. George's Anglican Church for seven days.
The priest said he assisted the guests in cleaning up the site on the departure date — which was set as part of a written agreement the church and the group signed on Aug. 28 when the camping began.
VanBuskirk said when the campers began setting up tents, he and other members of the parish had considered asking them to depart amidst angry reactions from neighbours.
Instead, the church decided to make an agreement for a temporary stay.
The priest said over the past week the local community has dropped off items and food, and on Friday there was a breakfast held where the young people were introduced to a variety of social services.
"The community came to meet these young people and say, 'We care about you,'" he said.
VanBuskirk said he's learned more about the hold that substance addiction has on some young people during their week long stay.
"This group wasn't disrespectful and didn't ask for anything, but the drug use is huge — both intravenous and pills," said the minister.
He said the rising cost of accommodations in the Moncton area is also an important factor.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 6, 2020.
The Canadian Press