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City of Kingston calls special meeting to discuss Belle Park encampment

Click to play video: 'City of Kingston calls special meeting to discuss future of Belle Park encampment' City of Kingston calls special meeting to discuss future of Belle Park encampment
WATCH: The city says they did not hand out eviction notices to encampment residents, and will discuss the encampment's options at a special meeting Thursday night – May 11, 2022

Kingston city council will be deciding the fate of a tent encampment and those living in it, at a special meeting set to take place May 12.

The tents are set up in a wooded area of Belle Park behind the Integrated Care Hub on Montreal Street.

Rumours of eviction notices being served by the city have been circulating through the encampment’s residents, but the city’s CAO says that is not the case.

“So just to set the record straight… No, the city has not issued any notices to anyone in those encampments,” said Hurdle.

Read more: Neighbours of Kingston, Ont. Integrated Care Hub raise safety concerns

The city’s encampment protocol was suspended during the Omicron wave last November on orders from public health.

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With the Omicron threat diminishing, public health’s direction has changed, allowing the city to reinstate the protocol, which would give the city the green light to issue notices to unhoused campers.

“If somebody is camping somewhere where they’re not permitted to, they have to be given notice and they have to be presented with other options on where they can go,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson.

A number of individuals residing in the encampment say they want to stay where they are.

Chris Bartrew lives in the encampment and says being close to the facility means having quick access to services, which can mean the difference between life or death.

“A buddy found me in a tent there, almost dead. That’s why I stay near the shelters,” said Bartrew.

Read more: Belle Park homeless encampment in Kingston cleared by city crews

Sydenham District Councillor Peter Stroud has a motion prepared for the special meeting, calling for a six-month pilot program that would allow unhoused people to camp close to the Integrated Care Hub while city staff look at options for a more permanent solution.

CAO Hurdle says city staff will follow the direction of council.

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“Is it possible to have an encampment at Belle Park? Of course,” said Hurdle. ” I would say, two years ago, we had an encampment at Belle Park.”

The encampment that CAO Hurdle referred to was eventually cleared by the municipality in September 2020.

Council’s special meeting gets underway at 6 p.m.

 

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