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Belle Park advocacy group says it will oppose any forced evictions

Click to play video: 'City continues with transition efforts for Belle Park homeless, but eviction is a possibility.'
City continues with transition efforts for Belle Park homeless, but eviction is a possibility.
Remaining homeless camped at Belle Park could face eviction – Aug 17, 2020

An advocacy group supporting those who have been living at Belle Park during the coronavirus pandemic says it will actively oppose any forced evictions at the park.

“One of our representatives learned from a city official that the city plans to come in this week and forcibly remove everything and everyone else,” said Jared Houston of Mutual Aid Katarokwi Kingston.

Read more: City of Kingston begins removal of temporary services at Belle Park

The date set by council for homeless campers to leave Belle Park came and went at the end of July, and so far, the city has maintained there would be no forced evictions from the park.

Last week, temporary services like water and hydro were removed from the park, with the city and its community partners directing campers towards Artillery Park, where an integrated care hub has been set up as a stopgap between the camp and permanent housing options.

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“They’re offered the assistance to transition to the cooling centre or any of the shelters that we currently have and that’s what we’re trying to reiterate is that we’d like individuals to be able to transition rather than have to evict,” said Joanne Borris, the housing program administrator with the city.

Click to play video: '‘Camping at Belle Park is no longer allowed,’ says notice handed out by Kingston CAO'
‘Camping at Belle Park is no longer allowed,’ says notice handed out by Kingston CAO

City staff haven’t ruled out the possibility of evicting the remaining campers at Belle Park, but they say no timeline has been set for an action like that.

“There’s been no date determined, as far as I’m aware, of any type of forcible eviction, but we still are regularly chatting with the campers and trying to ensure that they’re still well aware of all the different programs and services we’re offering,” Borris said.

Houston says evictions should be off the table until alternatives can be found for the campers.

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“We’ve reached the point where we have to oppose this through community power, which is our call for people to come to Belle Park whenever the city shows up in force to destroy people’s homes and disrupt people’s lives,” Houston said.

The city is currently in negotiations to transition the integrated hub at Artillery Park to the Salvation Army’s Patrick Street property, which could potentially a more stable location for those living at Belle Park at the moment.

— With files from Global News’ Alexandra Mazur. 

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