A structure made of plywood and tarps, along with several large camping tents, can now be seen near the entrance of Belle Park in Kingston, Ont.
Over a dozen people are calling the east end park home after many say they left the city’s isolation centres due to strict rules.
“It was very restrictive. We were allowed cigarettes every two hours, and we had to stay in our rooms, and I couldn’t do it. I was waking up every morning with a nightmare,” said Barbara Robinson, one of the newest members of the camp.
On Monday, Global News was given a tour inside the camp by Nathan Rosevear, a Kingston local who has called Belle Park home for over a week.
On March 30, the Kingston Self-Isolation Centre (KSIC), operated by the local addiction and mental health service, began a self-isolation centre for those without a safe space to isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its facility is the vacant Fairfield Manor west senior home.
On the other side of town, at Fairfield Manor east, a physical distancing centre for the city’s homeless population was established and has been running ever since.
According to the City of Kingston, AMHS-KFLA has received 10 referrals to support individuals experiencing homelessness to self-isolate at Fairfield Manor west.
The centre can support up to 32 individuals. The city says Fairfield Manor east, where many of the Belle Park campers say they were staying, has seen around 50 people.
This week, addiction and mental health services joined forces with Home Base Housing to launch street outreach teams to help people navigate through the pandemic, many of whom live on the streets.
Rolfe told Global News that finding those living in the encampment a place to live is his main objective, but with the pandemic, it has been challenging to secure viewings.
Fortunately for Rolfe and the camp, the City of Kingston announced on Monday that the Belle Park campers are permitted to stay until further notice.
“The community has been great. They bring Tim Hortons coffee and donuts and other food. I really appreciate it,” said Robinson.