Once again, the residents living in Kingston’s Belle Park have been hit with another eviction date. Now, the campers have until July 31 to leave the north-end park.
In June, the City of Kingston gave the reported 40 campers a July 7 move-out date after KFL&A public health warned the city that the encampment poses a health risk for the people living there.
The city was unable to secure an alternative location or meet the needs of the campers, causing council to push the deadline to the end of the month.
“I have a faith that the city will make the right decision,” said Nathan Rosevear, one of the first people to move into the park in late April.
On Tuesday evening before council voted on the matter, over 100 people congregated in Belle Park to rally against the campers’ eviction. The night included music and speeches from Rosevear and supporters, many holding signs that read, “No evictions for Belle Park.”
One of those in attendance was Quisha Girard-Lau representing Mutual Aid Katarokwi/Kingston, who told Global News she first met the campers in March.
“I’ve really wanted to assist in whatever way I can, whether it was a small way of offering a smile or offering a meal. When I came across this community and I met Nate (Rosevear), he really inspired me,” said Girard-Lau.
Girard-Lau played the guitar and sang to the crowd Tuesday evening and was joined by Brockville city councillor and housing advocate Leigh Bursey.
Bursey, who has been a voice for those experiencing homelessness in southeastern Ontario over the past few years, offered ideas that may help move campers out of the park.
“Modular homes. What would stop Kingston from doing a few of their own? What would stop Brockville?” said Bursey.
He went on to say that the campers need a sense of community rather than a shelter. Bursey believes creating a small community with modular homes would help the city pinpoint individual needs.
“You’re going to be able to check on them in ways that we wouldn’t be able to do because people are afraid to open up to each other in shelters,” said Bursey.
Tuesday night the city discussed potentially extending the camp to Dec. 31 to give more time to find a solution, but it was voted down.
Mayor Bryan Paterson told Global News earlier on Tuesday that the city is waiting for the Artillery Park cooling centre to open as it’s a key piece in the relocation of the campers. Rosevear, though, says it will not solve their issues.