With encampment eviction deadline looming, Kingston, Ont. council seeks legal advice

Click to play video: 'Kingston Encampment Deadline'
Kingston Encampment Deadline
WATCH: Kingston city council will be receiving legal advice to understand how a recent Supreme Court ruling affects the encampments in the city – Mar 6, 2023

A city-imposed deadline is fast approaching to clear away a homeless camp in Kingston, Ont.

Dozens of people have been living in tents and makeshift shelters near the Integrated Care Hub. The city wants them out when the winter season ends later this month.

The city almost moved the campers out at the beginning of this year but put it off until March 21.

But as that date approaches, there is hope that a mass eviction could be avoided.

“I am feeling optimistic,” says Chrystal Wilson, executive director of Our Livable Solutions.

Her cause for optimism is a recent ruling by the Ontario Supreme Court that deemed the planned eviction of an encampment in Waterloo “unconstitutional.”

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“I think the ruling from the Supreme Court regarding Waterloo region and their encampments makes a big difference,” says Wilson.

Mayor Bryan Paterson says it will make a difference during council’s closed-door discussion about the issue, which is planned for Tuesday.

“It’s really going to be an important discussion,” says Paterson. “Obviously taking into account not only the Waterloo court decision, but also some of the other unique factors about the encampment that we have here in Kingston.”

Paterson describes the situation as “complex.”

“I think it’s important to take an empathetic approach to everyone involved,” he says. “That’s the residents, the campers, the surrounding neighbourhood and the community as a whole.”

Empathy is something Wilson says the community needs to keep at the forefront when discussing the encampments.

“These are people we’re talking about,” she says. “Coming up with ways that we can support them by listening to them and helping understand what would work for them is really important.”

What will work for the city legally will be the focus of the closed discussion on Tuesday, when the mayor and council get legal advice on just what they can and can’t do.

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