The lawyer representing advocates supporting residents in a number of homeless encampments in Hamilton says the province has extended an injunction preventing the city from “involuntarily removing” tents from public spaces.
Wade Poziomka of Ross & McBride LLP told Global News that the superior court injunction is good until early September and puts a hold on any city plans to clear away homeless people on public spaces.
Encampments across Hamilton have been cropping up since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The most notable have been on Ferguson Avenue between Cannon and Barton Streets and York Street outside First Ontario Centre.
Previously, there were two large encampments at Jackie Washington Rotary Park and another at the former John A. McDonald Secondary School downtown. Those two sites were cleared by the city in May and June respectively.
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Poziomka says the legal action was taken because the groups he represents do not believe the city is offering “proper supports” for the homeless population and suggested the city undertake a project for more affordable housing.
In late July, the director of Hamilton’s emergency operations centre (EOC) told Global News the city was “stepping up” efforts to relocate individuals in the city’s encampments.
Paul Johnson said a collaboration with the city’s mental health street outreach program, public health, social workers, police and paramedics have been connecting with the homeless to offer space in a shelter or some type of housing.
The city has tried to deal with the increase in homelessness through a number of campaigns including the set up of a men’s homeless shelter at rink level of First Ontario Centre — operated by Good Shepherd — and an encampment task force dismantling unsanctioned sites through collaboration with housing services, bylaw officers, police and paramedics.
Hamilton’s council is awaiting the completion of a staff report, tied to the city’s encampment task force, which is expected later this month to offer recommendations on how to tackle the growing issue.