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City of Kingston considers supportive housing options for Belle Park campers

The city has a property in mind to offer Belle Park campers a new place to live after their eviction from the site at the end of the month. Global News

Mayor Bryan Paterson has announced a housing option that could be used by those camping out at Belle Park following their eviction from the site.

The camp at Belle Park has been growing throughout the summer, with around 40 campers currently residing at the north-end location. The city has so far given the campers several eviction notices, citing safety concerns. The Belle Park camp is situated on what used to be a landfill, and city officials worry about the possible spread of COVID-19 for those living in close quarters.

Read more: Belle Park encampment extended to July 31

After not being able to secure an alternative location or meet the needs of the campers by the last eviction date of July 7, on Tuesday, council pushed the eviction deadline to July 31.

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Before council voted on the matter, over 100 people congregated in Belle Park to rally against the campers’ eviction.

It was announced Tuesday that the city is aiming to set up a 24-hour cooling shelter at Artillery Park, which is meant to help alleviate short-term heat concerns for the summer.

But in a tweet put out Thursday, Paterson said the city is now looking at longer-term solutions to house the campers.

“What we really need in Kingston is more supportive housing. Supportive housing is when our most vulnerable not only have a place to live but they have close access to the services and supports they need to overcome the challenges that might have led to them to become homeless in the first place,” Paterson said Thursday.

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In his tweet, Paterson said the city is considering housing Belle Park campers at the Kingston Youth Shelter near the corner of West and Lower Union streets.
Click to play video: 'Belle Park encampment extended to July 31' Belle Park encampment extended to July 31
Belle Park encampment extended to July 31 – Jul 8, 2020

Paterson said the building is still being used by the youth shelter. The mayor’s office says it won’t “specifically” be for campers at Belle Park — but will be used as an affordable housing location.

“Now my hope is that upper levels of government will come to the table with the city so we can offer supportive housing at this location and others, not only for campers at Belle Park, but for others that need that support,” Paterson said Thursday.

The city is set to pay up to $2.1 million for the youth shelter property.

A spokesperson for the mayor says the plan still very much in the early planning stages and that there are currently no other details to add.

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— With files from Global News’ Kraig Krause. 

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