Home­less treated with ‘cal­lous­ness,’ stu­dent says

The Peterborough Examiner - - News - JOELLE KOVACH Ex­am­iner Staff Writer joelle.kovach @pe­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Small groups of cit­i­zens kept vigil on the side­walk along Vic­to­ria Park on Tues­day morn­ing — and at least one said she was shocked at how the city has treated its home­less peo­ple.

“I thought Peter­bor­ough was a bet­ter city than this,” said Shan­non Cul­keen, a nurs­ing stu­dent. “I didn’t know there was this much cal­lous­ness.”

A home­less encampment of more than 40 tents was set up in Vic­to­ria Park after the Warm­ing Room shel­ter closed for re­pairs on July 1.

On Tues­day the campers faced evic­tion: the county-owned Vic­to­ria Park was closed to the pub­lic at 9 a.m. for a cleanup, and un­der new city and county by­laws camp­ing is not al­lowed in pub­lic parks.

City po­lice were present on the edges of the park, but weren’t seen ask­ing peo­ple to leave.

By early evening there were 11 tents left in Vic­to­ria Park, and at least one camper told The Ex­am­iner he was mov­ing to the prop­erty at Em­manuel United Church be­fore night­fall.

That’s where many of the campers moved: they went a block north to Em­manuel on Ge­orge Street, where they had clergy per­mis­sion to camp.

There were 18 tents at the church by evening.

In the park on Tues­day morn­ing, peo­ple on the side­walk held plac­ards with mes­sages such as “Do Not Crim­i­nal­ize Hu­man Rights,” while other peo­ple cleaned the park.

Coun. Kemi Akapo, the sec­ond deputy mayor and the Town Ward coun­cil­lor, was the only mem­ber of coun­cil seen in the park Tues­day morn­ing.

When asked whether she thought po­lice might evict peo­ple later, she said, “I can’t speak to that.”

Mayor Diane Ther­rien is on va­ca­tion out­side the city this week.

Can­dace Shaw, the NDP can­di­date in the up­com­ing fed­eral elec­tion for Peter­bor­ough-Kawartha, was in the park on Tues­day hold­ing a plac­ard call­ing for more pub­lic hous­ing, which she said is part of the NDP’s plat­form.

Ac­tivist Rachelle Sauve said some home­less peo­ple who weren’t go­ing to Em­manuel United Church prop­erty would be camp­ing in wooded parks — and called it “vile” to force peo­ple to hide in the woods.

Chris­tian Har­vey, the for­mer direc­tor of the Warm­ing Room, called it “in­ex­cus­able” for the city or county to evict home­less peo­ple when there’s no hous­ing for them.

But Coun. An­drew Beamer, the city’s deputy mayor, is­sued a state­ment late Tues­day af­ter­noon stat­ing that 15 tents had re­mained in Vic­to­ria Park as of mid­day and warn­ing that any­one re­main­ing in the park is tres­pass­ing.

The city also an­nounced late Tues­day af­ter­noon that the city so­cial ser­vices depart­ment out­reach work­ers who had been op­er­at­ing out of Vic­to­ria Park for the past two weeks will now be lo­cated at the Sal­va­tion Army,

350 Aylmer St.

Work­ers are there from 8:45 to 11 a.m., this week, co­in­cid­ing with the break­fast pro­gram of­fered at the Sal­va­tion Army, to con­nect peo­ple with sup­port ser­vices, in­clud­ing shel­ter beds and help with hous­ing, de­pend­ing on their in­di­vid­ual needs.

LANCE AN­DER­SON PETER­BOR­OUGH THIS WEEK

Tent city sup­port­ers gath­ered near Vic­to­ria Park on Tues­day morn­ing for a vigil as campers moved their tents off the prop­erty.

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