Developer, crews clean up Kingston’s Montreal Street homeless encampment following bylaw order

Click to play video: 'Montreal street homeless camp cleaned up by property owner' Montreal street homeless camp cleaned up by property owner
WATCH: The cleanup is a result of orders issued by Kingston bylaw enforcement and fire department – May 27, 2021

Crews began working early on Thursday, removing trees, garbage and a longstanding homeless encampment located in a wooded area at 670 Montreal Street.

The cleanup is the result of a bylaw order issued by the City of Kingston and an order from the Kingston fire department.

Developer Ben Pilon, the property owner, says the orders have sped up a process that was already underway.

“There have been more fires in the area which brought (city firefighters) in. They’ve had to issue orders to comply which are essential for safety to life,” said Pilon

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Gas and propane canisters along with temporary structures were hauled away from a forested part of the property where the homeless camp has been located.

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Pilon says he’s worked with those living in the camp to keep them apprised of the work and timelines.

“We’ve been talking to the groups here and the individuals living here and just letting them know that we’re coming in and we have to clean up,” said Pilon.

“We’ve been giving them notice, trying to provide time and assistance where possible.”

A street outreach worker, Kris Murray, estimated there were approximately a dozen to 20 people living in the camp the week before.

Housing advocate Chrystal Wilson was on site as work crews began clearing the property.

“As far as I know, everybody’s moved on to somewhere else except one, who’s just kind of lost and he doesn’t know where to go because he’s so tired of getting kicked out of places,” said Wilson.

Wilson says while this encampment may be gone, the municipality’s issues with homelessness and housing remain.

“This is the same people that were shuffled from Belle Park that are being shuffled again,” said Wilson.

“We haven’t really solved anything. There’s nothing different than when we shuffled them out of Belle Park, so all we’ve done is traumatize people more.”

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Pilon says the homelessness issues in Kingston are complex and aren’t limited to just the Limestone City.

“It’s a full group effort. The city’s got to be involved, the province has got to be involved, local groups have got to be involved and it’s not just an issue Kingston’s dealing with,” said Pilon.

“This is across the province, across the country in different cities.”

Pilon says the mandated clean-up work will be completed by day’s end.

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