A homeless encampment in a Peterborough park, which is right across from the downtown courthouse, has sparked a change in by-laws and even a petition to get them out. Over 1,600 people have signed out of the 2,500 goal. The tent city is the largest in Peterborough, Ontario, with around 40 occupants, but there are others across the city due to the recent closure of a homeless shelter on July 1.
The Warming Room shelter's closure on Canada Day has caused the surge in people seeking shelter. There haven't been many alternative options save for a public library auditorium that only has a third of the space of the original shelter, causing many to camp out in municipal parks instead, TVO reports.
Now, a new city bylaw, which is being voted on today, will outline new rules for use of the parks. The changes will mean that no one can occupy the parks between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless participating in or observing an approved event. Narcity has reached out to Peterborough city council and will update the story once we hear back.
Global News reports that a permit will now also be required to pitch a tent if the bylaw passes. However, tents may still be allowed without a permit if there are no vacant beds in the planned overflow shelters.
The Peterborough Examiner reported in July that there were still some vacant beds in other shelters, as well as vacant housing units for those in need that were going unused while the tent city continued to grow.
Vendors will also not be permitted in the park, and skateboarding, riding your bike, or playing a sport will also be banned.
Meanwhile, the residents who started the petition fear for their safety. They say that there has been a spike of B & Es, drug and alcohol use, and harassment since the tent city showed up.
Fines of no less than $200 and no more than $10,000 will be issued to trespassers of the proposed bylaw.