Kingston, Ont. seeks court order to remove homeless encampment at Belle Park

Tents that homeless people are sleeping in on the municipally owned Belle Park property. Global Kingston

The City of Kingston says it will bring an application before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice seeking an order to remove the encampment at Belle Park, as directed by city council.

According to the city, trespass notices were issued in March 2023, but the municipality has not forcibly removed anyone from the area off of Montreal Street to instead focus on a peaceful transition.

The city said that since issuing the trespass notices, most individuals in the encampment were safely relocated with access to appropriate services and supports. “We have worked with our community partners to offer several low barrier shelter options and strongly encouraged people remaining in the area to take advantage of these services, including drop-in shelters, free transportation, and safe storage of belongings,” the city said in a press release issued Thursday afternoon.

Serious incidents at the encampment have posed health and safety concerns for the remaining encampment residents, service providers, and surrounding neighbours, the city said.

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In recent months, the city has worked to increase the number of low-barrier shelter options to accommodate different needs, including couples, women-only, people with pets, and a wide range of support services. A low-barrier shelter generally means requirements for entry are limited or minimal for the people who wish to stay there.

The city claims there is capacity to accommodate individuals remaining in the Belle Park encampment, but some have declined offers of shelter and support, prompting the municipality to seek guidance from the court to address this situation.

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