Kingston, Ont. encampment protocol enforcement comes into effect

The City of Kingston's new homeless enforcement has come into effect. Global News

The City of Kingston will be enforcing its “no camping” bylaw starting this week, meaning no unhoused campers are allowed to set up in public spaces.

But with local shelters and facilities at near full capacity, where will these campers go?

“It’s really, really hard being homeless. It’s really hard having nobody,” said Eli Whitley, who is unhoused.

After many complaints from residents, Kingston council reinstated its encampment protocol last week.

It means no more unhoused people will be allowed to set up camp in public parks or spaces.

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“Ultimately, it’s disappointing,” Trellis HIV and Community Care executive director Gilles Charette said. “City staff have been working on adding capacity to our system by way of additional housing options for people. Those won’t be ready until late summer and early fall. There’s still not quite enough to meet the need that exists in the community.”

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The city says each person’s relocation will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

In a press release, the city says it will provide alternate service options, such as “shelter, access to the Integrated Care Hub, motel/hotel, apartment, medical services, storage and transportation.”

But the problem with relocating to shelters is that some of them are nearly at full capacity.

“What we don’t see in our system is a lot of capacity for individuals who are homeless and use substances. What we would describe as harm reduction supportive housing, there’s not a lot of that in our system,” Charette said.

As for the campers, many of them don’t have anywhere else to go.

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Whitley, one of the campers set up around the Integrated Care Hub, says he really doesn’t want to leave his space, but will keep camping if he’s evicted from his area.

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“I’ll go camp somewhere else. They can come find me and do it again, and again and again. I’m homeless, so what? Every single person here is homeless, so what,” Whitley said.

Whitney says the constant evictions are difficult for the homeless population, who are trying to find some kind of stability while living in their tents.

“You can’t just keep throwing us around, we’re not toys. We’re people. We’re human beings. We’re like everyone else who has a home,” Whitley said.

Enforcement of the no camping bylaw will begin this week, and once campers are notified of their eviction, they will have six hours to pack up their things and find somewhere else to go — wherever that might be.

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