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City council approves hosting temporary shelter beds at Peterborough Public Library

On day 17 of tent city in Peterborough Council holds an emergency meeting to defuse the situation. Dan Nyznik reports.

Peterborough city council voted unanimous in favour of utilizing the Peterborough Public Library to host temporary overflow beds for those displaced by the closing of a homeless shelter in the city earlier this month.

Dozens of people have been camping out on municipal property including Victoria Park since the Warming Room homeless shelter closed on July 1 after its lease was not renewed at the Murray St. Baptist Church.

READ MORE: City of Peterborough seeks answers to address growing tent city

City council held emergency general committee meeting  Wednesday to consider approving the overflow beds. The public were invited to attend and participate in the discussion.

The proposal will see 15 beds in the auditorium of the lower level of the library. The beds would be available from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. each night. Another 15 overflow beds will be offered at the Youth Emergency Shelter.

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Resource staff and extra security will be at the library, council heard.

“People who use the space would be expected to be out of the space by 8 a.m. each morning,” the city issued in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

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With the provision of a new overflow beds location, the city is asking people to not camp in public spaces that are not meant for that type of use.

Coun. Stephen Wright says he’d like to send a “strong message” that setups such as tent city are not an option.

“It’s time to take tent city down and address the real problems that lead to homelessness,” he said in an Instagram post prior to the meeting.

The city says the library is a temporary location while officials continue efforts to secure a longer-term location for the overflow beds service.

The City contracted with St. John’s Anglican Church, through its Warming Room Community Ministries program, for the provision of overflow beds.

“The city is committed to providing safe overnight space for people who are homeless and ultimately connecting them with support and housing, not just temporary shelter,” the city says.

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Overflow beds are provided for people who are homeless when they’re unable to be accommodated in the regular emergency shelters: Brock Mission, Cameron House and Youth Emergency Shelter.

The beds are expect to be available the library beginning at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

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