Belle Park in Kingston, Ont., has become an unofficial campground after the city permitted those who are homeless to pitch a tent.
Over the last month, the encampment grew to over 40 people, according to one of the initial campers, Nathan Rosevear.
The encampment has brought people from around the province to the park, some travelling from as far away as Niagara, Ont.
Global News has spoken to several campers since the encampment began in early May and on Sunday we were introduced to the newest members: a mother and her 13-year-old daughter.
Kelly Hennessey and her teenage daughter, Alazaya, say they moved to Belle Park from Napanee, Ont., after they were evicted from a motel and were living in a tent on Kimmett Side Road, bringing with them their emotional support pig and dog.
“We would be better in the woods than we would be here but this is where the resources are,” said Kelly.
Street outreach and addictions and mental health services stop by the Belle Park several times per day, according to Ryan Rolfe, the street outreach coordinator from Home Base Housing.
The city says these workers have learned about the specific needs of the campers and have developed a plan to accommodate as many needs as possible.
As of June 5th, city staff will work on transitioning the campers to local campgrounds.
“Belle Park is located on an old landfill site and is not suitable for camping,” said Lanie Hurdle CAO for the City of Kingston.
According to the city, once the province lifts restrictions on campgrounds, the city will work with local campgrounds to provide people with the opportunity to camp for the season at a location that provides washrooms, showers and potable water.
“They will be provided with proper tents, sleeping bags and other equipment if required. There will also be ongoing support services made available,” read the emailed statement.
The location of the local campgrounds is unknown.
In From the Cold Shelter is offering drop-in services where campers and the city’s homeless population can have a shower and do laundry.
“I just want to be with my family alone and have a shower,” said Alazaya.
On Sunday afternoon, Global News received a text message from a Kingston resident, who wants to remain anonymous, saying they will pay for the Hennessey’s to stay in a hotel until they can find a place of their own.