Dozens of people have been calling Belle Park in Kingston, Ont., home for over a month.
As the number of people living there grows, the City of Kingston is looking at alternative housing solutions — one which involves relocating the group to a local campground with amenities.
As for which local campground, the City of Kingston says they’ve yet to cement a location as they need the province to lift campground restrictions.
“We haven’t worked with anybody specifically yet. We’re still in the process of trying to determine what location would be ideal,” said Joanne Borris, the City’s housing administrator.
Borris said that Belle Park is a decontaminated landfill site, which was one of the reasons why the city is looking to move the group by June 5th.
“We want to make sure that people have the amenities, that they’re close to supports and networks, but that we’re treating them with some dignity and respect as well,” said Borris.
This week, Global News spoke to several campers, many of whom told Global News they are excited to see what the city has planned for them.
The current camp has a portable toilet and a handwashing station, which is used by around 40 people.
One of those people is Peter Hern, 74, who has lived in the park for nearly three weeks.
“I’m happy being here playing my guitar,” said Hern.
Hern told Global News that he joined the group in Belle Park after spending months in local shelters, and because of the pandemic, the self-isolation became too lonely.
“They’ll listen to stories, and they’re kind of curious to find about the ’70s, and I’ll play them some songs from then,” said Hern as he played Early Morning Rain by Gordon Lightfoot.
Hern says that he is hoping to stay at Belle Park but will go with the pack if need be.
Others say they are excited about what the city is preparing for them, as Kingston noted late last week that the next site will have running water, showers, washrooms, and that the municipality will provide tents and other equipment.
“I’ll follow their rules. We have to be law-abiding citizens,” said Nathan Mcfarlane, who says he has lived in the camp for multiple weeks.
According to the City of Kingston, campers will continue to be offered individual rooms at existing shelters, which can accommodate them and have been underused.