Following a city council decision earlier this month, people camping in public spaces throughout the city of Kingston will be able to do so legally, as city staff have been directed to pause any evictions.
“So at this point, we’re not enforcing the protocol as per the council direction,” says City of Kingston CAO Lanie Hurdle.
“We know that it’s not just at Belle Park, at the (Integrated Care Hub). We know that there have been encampments in — they tend to be a little bit fluid, people move around — but there have been encampments or there are encampments in other locations, too, in other parks.”
One of those spots is City Park, where a few tents have gone up.
“We have our bylaw staff that are actually attending these park locations on a daily basis to ensure that there are no health and safety issues,” says Hurdle.
“So by health and safety, what I mean is, anything that could cause a fire, anything that could harm a person, whether that is in an encampment or a person using a public space. Those are the things that we typically look for in health and safety.”
According to Hurdle, council gave city staff direction to not proceed with evictions until it reports back with a plan.
But city councillor Jim Neill, who brought the motion forward, says that isn’t entirely the case.
“I’m a little puzzled by why my motion is being used as a rationale for opening up all of the parks,” he says.
“Because that wasn’t my intent at the time of the motion.”
Neill says he was careful to word his motion to specify the encampments behind the ICH and at Belle Park, rather than across the entire city.
“The intent was exactly what the wording of my motion said,” he adds.
“The intent was to allow people camped behind the care hub to be able to continue to access that, those services. And that people immediately, again, the few tents that were in the park here, would be allowed to stay until there was a clear alternative that could be offered.”
No matter the intent, the pause on evictions is currently in place across the city, and will be in place until staff report back to council with a plan in late June.