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City of Kingston extends Belle Park encampment to July 7 amid COVID-19

Click to play video: 'City of Kingston looks to extend Belle Park encampment another 2-weeks' City of Kingston looks to extend Belle Park encampment another 2-weeks
WATCH: As provincial campgrounds remain under strict restrictions amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Kingston's Belle Park encampment may continue until late June or later. – Jun 2, 2020

The City of Kingston has extended its move-out date for Belle Park campers to July 7 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday evening, city officials in Kingston, Ont., paid a visit to the more than 30 campers in the park and listened to their needs.

Campers tell Global News the group is asking for running water, electricity, showers and washrooms.

Click to play video: 'Mother and teenage daughter move in to Belle Park homeless encampment; City gives June 5 move-out date' Mother and teenage daughter move in to Belle Park homeless encampment; City gives June 5 move-out date
Mother and teenage daughter move in to Belle Park homeless encampment; City gives June 5 move-out date – May 24, 2020

Since mid-May, the city says it has been trying to facilitate their needs and working with local campgrounds to potentially relocate the campers, although with provincial campground restrictions in place due to the pandemic, the process has slowed.

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“There are still some provincial restrictions that we’re hoping could be lifted sometime soon,” said Lanie Hurdle, the City of Kingston’s chief administrative officer.

READ MORE: City of Kingston seeks to relocate Belle Park homeless camp as June 5 move-out date issued

With no timeline for when that may happen, Hurdle proposed an extension of Friday’s deadline, allowing camping for two more weeks at Belle Park. The report went to council Tuesday night and passed unanimously, and the move-out date for campers is now July 7.

“We need supportive housing and we need help,” said Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson during the council meeting.

According to the chief administrative officer, the shelters have plenty of room as many are at 50 per cent capacity, however Hurdle said “some don’t feel comfortable to be in a shelter setting.”

 

Peter Hern, 74, who has lived in the park, told Global News last week that the city needs to come down to their level to understand the issues within their community.

Hern says when he saw city officials arrive Monday night, he wasn’t sure what to expect but that the intimidation factor faded as soon as they began listening to the group’s struggles.

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“It’s not a vacation. It’s life,” Hern said. “We’re struggling, and people are struggling. I’m in a wheelchair, and I don’t want to be but I’m doing the best I can.”

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