A GoFundMe campaign has raised $1500 to ensure that the residents of Belle Park remain in their encampment until they are provided with a housing solution. Tabassum Pasha and Christina Zheng started the campaign after speaking to Belle Park resident Nathan about the challenges they were facing.
“After speaking with Nathan and a few other Belle Park residents, it has come to our attention that the City of Kingston plans to evict Belle Park residents by the end of July with no plans in place to house everyone. Power and water will be shut off in that area to force people to move out,” says Pasha.
Residents ordered to leave on July 31st
In a tie-breaker vote on July 7th, Kingston City Council decided that July 31st would be the last day that the Belle Park inhabitants would be exempt from the Parks Bylaw. They were formally notified the following week that they would need to leave the area. The city has stated that they won’t be forced to leave on August 1st.
The City hopes that an Integrated Care Hub at Artillery Park will provide transition support for the residents as they find alternate housing solutions. Artillery Park will primarily act as a cooling center but also house a variety of services. However, some residents don’t believe that this is a housing solution.
Pasha says that the immediate request from residents is for community wood to be used to build box structures that can fit between 7 and 9 people. Pasha has been acting as a liaison for the community to mobilize support for the initiative.
Nathan, who has previously been an outspoken resident of Belle Park, has already built a structure using scrap wood. The community believes that building these structures will allow them to stay longer. Other members of the community have said that this initiative will make it harder to be evicted, as they believe that the city will use “brute force” to remove them.
According to Pasha, it takes about one day to build each structure and four additional structures will need to be built. They will also require 24 to 28 2×6 boards, right 4×8 plywood, 100 3 ½ inch nails. Each structure will cost about $350 dollars to be built.
Plans to build temporary shelter at the park
Once she has fundraised her goal of $1500, Pasha will return to the encampment and ask the community if they have additional needs. As of July 23rd, the campaign has raised 1,513.
“Let’s do our best to listen and respond to the needs of the community. We cannot let the city erase this encampment with no plans in place, especially when the residents have finally had the opportunity to heal and become healthier. If circumstances change and residents are evicted before we can raise enough money for the supplies, the funds will be distributed to the community to meet their needs.” Says Pasha
Though the City of Kingston has stated that the Artillery Park drop-in centre will be open 24/7, the Kingstonist has confirmed that Artillery Park is currently open on reduced hours.
In response to the article, Ruth Noordegraaf, Director of Housing and Social Services for the City of Kingston replied with the following statement:
The Integrated Care Hub, located at Artillery Park, is part of a cooperative effort between City partners to support the individuals at Belle Park by providing interim solutions, while longer-term housing solutions are sought. Shelter beds are still available and the facility will be operating during daytime hours, during the week. It will begin to operate on a 24-hour basis as of July 31.
In the meantime, individuals are being encouraged to access the day services available there. Currently, the Integrated Care Hub Includes a resting area, food support (with multiple meals a day) and access to the following: – washrooms and showers – a mental health and addictions nurse – power, television and WIFI After July 31, the City will be working with community agencies to add a variety of other services to meet client needs, including wellness and life skills programming.