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City of Kingston to enforce daytime camping ban

Last Updated on March 17, 2024 by Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Starting April 2, the City of Kingston will be enforcing its Parks Use Bylaw (2009-76), meaning that tents and temporary shelters in parks must be disassembled before sunrise everyday and be erected no sooner than sundown.

In a release, the city says the work begins today in a “respectful, safe, and empathetic manner”, with bylaw officers handing out notices to those currently residing in the Belle Park encampment.

Commissioner, Infrastructure, Transportation and Emergency Services with the City of Kingston Brad Joyce acknowledged in the release that enforcement will cause strain on those living in tents or other structures in parks throughout the city.

“We acknowledge enforcement of the Parks Use By-Law is difficult for people who are currently sheltering in City parks,” said Joyce.

“The City and its agency partners are committed to applying the by-law and doing so in a manner that maintains the dignity of people who are affected by this change.”

In late 2023, the Superior Court of Justice denied a request for an injunction from the city of Kingston, with a judge ruling that preventing camping overnight would have violated the rights of the campers.

That ruling did not specifically rule a daytime ban as unconstitutional, however, and the city is planning to kick out encampment residents when the sun is up.*

*Editor’s Note: The City of Kingston asked to clarify that while camping is not being permitted during the day, people in the encampments are allowed to remain in the parks.

Legal representation for the campers could not be reached in time for publication, but John Done of the Kingston Community Legal Clinic previously wrote an open letter to the Mayor and City Council suggesting that a second injunction should be sought to carry out a daytime ban.

In a statement from the Katarokwi Union of Tenants, the organization called the move a war on the poor.

“The fact remains that the City of Kingston cannot provide adequate housing and services for encampment residents and would rather spend millions of dollars fighting them and gifting city-owned land to for-profit developers instead of investing those millions into the long-term wellbeing of Kingston’s homeless and working-class poor,” the statement read.

“The cost to taxpayers of terrorizing our homeless neighbours is truly astonishing, especially given the fact that this money could be spent to house them.”

The city says people who are staying in parks are being offered support services, indoor spaces in which to shelter, transportation and storage options for their belongings.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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