With Kingston City Hall shuttered, a number of tents have popped up around the building recently, using tarps, ropes and shopping carts around Market Square.
While they are squatting on municipal property, police are not forcing them to leave.
“If we were to remove them from one location, then really, if they don’t have any disposable income to find a place to stay, whether if that’s low income or they don’t gel well with the shelters, then all we are doing is moving that issue down the street or another block,” says Sgt. Steve Koopman.
Koopman says officers have spoken with the individuals and confirms they are not gathering in groups of more than five people.
“At this time they are all safe and accounted for,” Koopman says.
“They aren’t congregating in groups of more than five people, they are only one or two individuals, so it doesn’t fall under an offence under the emergency order as to the province,” he adds.
“These various individuals have various reasons why they cannot or they prefer not to attend shelters here in the city of Kingston.”
Police are directing them to services such as Home Base Housing and In From The Cold Emergency Shelter. Both have been notified by police about the situation and their street teams have reached out to the individuals and even provided them with some meals.
Police say while the tents remain up, they will keep an eye on the situation.
“We’ve done an assessment from a public-safety perspective, and because they are self-isolating, they are not in groups of more than five, they’re not coming into contact really with members of the public and they are not really engaging in prohibited activities, other than they’ve situated themselves in a temporary position that we are going to continue to observe,” police say.
“We’ve been in contact with City of Kingston bylaw officers, so they are aware of the issue and we’ll continue to keep in touch with each other to determine if anything needs to be done.”