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Residents Want Action On Encampments

By Adam Riley Feb 14, 2023 | 10:20 PM

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Residents living near the McVicar creek area say they have been left at times feeling helpless as a yearly encampment, along the recreational trail that hugs the creek and backs onto their back yards, continues to grow.

At a deputation Monday evening residents noted the need to help those who are homeless, but added some who are staying in the area are not part of the vulnerable population. Susan Lester, a resident of nearby Brookside Manor says she spoke with a woman who exited a pickup truck and carried down several bags of groceries into the site.

“As I observed her walking toward the tent I asked ‘Are you camping here?’, she said ‘Yes its lovely here, close to home, free, and nobody bothers you.’ I also noted that their campsite included a barbecue, two bicycles, and lawn furniture.

Additionally there are concerns over garbage, fires, needles, water way pollution and harassment from those living along the path.

Lester was joined by another resident of a home also along the creek who expressed fear and helplessness following an incident one evening.

“I live in a private home and my doorbell ringing at 12:30 at night, I was terrified, and I phoned the police. The police had nobody to send…nobody came.”

The City, through outside agencies, has provided supplies to those who are vulnerable in the area, and to an extent the efforts have paid off with 100 people experiencing homelessness now housed through the District Social Services Administration Board.

Council has asked staff to come up with a solution to the situation, which has a bit of a legal issue, which Westfort Councillor Kristen Oliver brought forward.

“We know through the media lately, The Superior Court denied the Region of Waterloo’s request for an injunction to have homeless encampments removed and the reason for that denial, was in recognition for a lack of housing.”

Oliver believes the City would find itself in a similar situation and put forth a motion to have staff look into remedies, which passed with an amended date of  having the report back to council on or before April 24th.


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