No one hurt as an­other tent goes up in flames

The Peterborough Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - JOELLE KOVACH EX­AM­INER STAFF WRITER

No one was hurt in a tent blaze early Tues­day night in a wooded area off The Kingsway in the city’s south end.

Some home­less peo­ple have been living in tents this win­ter in the city, but it wasn’t clear to fire crews on Tues­day night whether the tent that burned had been re­cently oc­cu­pied.

Pla­toon Chief Stephen Reid of the city fire depart­ment said no one was around at the time of the fire — not even by­standers.

The blaze oc­curred in the woods near Peter­bor­ough Ve­teri­nary Ser­vices around 5 p.m. Reid said fire­fight­ers used a hose line to put out the flames.

There was also a rub­bish fire be­neath the Jack­son Park bridge on Satur­day night; Reid at­tended, and said on Tues­day there hap­pened to be a tent in the charred heap of trash.

No one was hurt in that fire ei­ther, he said.

Mean­while a home­less man’s tent went up in flames on the prop­erty at St. John’s Angli­can Church on Nov. 12, where a man was still living at the time.

That tent was set ablaze by the oc­cu­pant who got away safely,

Rev. Brad Smith said later that day.

Home­less peo­ple have been camp­ing on the prop­erty at St. John’s since sum­mer with clergy per­mis­sion.

While most of the home­less peo­ple have left there since sum­mer — some said they would stay with friends — there

are still a cou­ple of tents out­side St. John’s.

In mid-July, there were about 18 tents at St. John’s and a fur­ther 40 tents across the street in Victoria Park.

The tent en­camp­ments were set up af­ter the July 1 clo­sure of the Warm­ing Room home­less shelter, which had been housed nearby in the base­ment of Mur­ray Street Bap­tist Church.

The church base­ment needed ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions, so the shelter closed. Now city coun­cil has ap­proved a plan to ren­o­vate the din­ing hall of the church to make it safe for use as a dor­mi­tory this win­ter.

Al­though it’s un­clear when the din­ing hall might be ready for night­time oc­cu­pancy, the city cur­rently has emer­gency cots in the lower-level au­di­to­rium of the Peter­bor­ough Public Li­brary.

In the sum­mer there were also tents in other city-owned parks: at Ni­cholls Oval, for in­stance, and at Riverview Park, as well as on the lawn at city hall.

But the largest en­camp­ment was at Victoria Park, which is owned by Peter­bor­ough County.

Nei­ther the city nor the county had by­laws at the time to ex­plic­itly ban overnight camp­ing in parks.

In Au­gust, both city and county coun­cils adopted no-camp­ing by­laws.

At a meet­ing on Tues­day, the city’s are­nas, parks and recre­ation ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee heard more about the by­law.

Now that the by­law is in ef­fect, a city staffer said, home­less campers no longer have 10 days to leave a city-owned park.

Rob Anderson, the city’s recre­ation co-or­di­na­tor, said that while the city pre­vi­ously would send a worker to speak with a home­less per­son and give them 10 days to find safe shelter, that pro­to­col no longer ap­plies.

“There’s no more five or 10 days of leav­ing that per­son in that sit­u­a­tion,” he said, adding that they can be of­fered help from so­cial ser­vices work­ers but can be ex­pected to “move on” right away to shelter.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER FILE PHOTO

Now that the by­law is in ef­fect, a city staffer said, home­less campers no longer have 10 days to leave a city-owned park.

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