Opinion: Civil Liberties Association ‘concerned’ over Kingston’s ‘encampment evictions’

A legal notice of trespass, zip-tied and padlocked to a tent in the encampment at Kingston’s Belle Park on Wednesday, Apr. 3, 2024. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

Editor’s note: The following is a submitted opinion piece regarding the City of Kingston’s enforcement of the daytime sheltering prohibition in City-owned parks, which began on Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2024. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is deeply concerned over the City of Kingston’s attempts to enforce a daytime ban on encampments through evictions of vulnerable unhoused people at Belle Park.

CCLA believes that a daytime ban violates the Charter rights of unhoused people and people living in poverty. Enforcing the daytime ban does not meet the spirit of the judgement of the Ontario Superior Court which read down a Kingston By-law prohibiting camping on City property in a ruling delivered last November by Justice Carter. In that decision, the Court declared that an overnight ban on camping was unconstitutional and left open the possibility that a daytime ban could be unconstitutional as well.

There are important practical and legal implications with requiring encampment residents to “pack” up every day. These include the physical and psychological burden of carrying their belongings all day until the ban on camping is temporarily lifted overnight and not having a fixed home or community. CCLA reiterates that, when the state interferes with an individual’s ability to shelter themselves, the time of day should not dictate whether that individual’s dignity and independence have been violated.

“Unhoused people are vulnerable members of our community and should not be treated as objects that can be easily shuffled around like traffic,” says Harini Sivalingam, Director of the Equality Program for CCLA.

“Unhoused individuals have rights. They are entitled to utilize public spaces and have their dignity respected.”

CCLA strongly urges the City of Kingston not to pursue any further legal action to enforce the By-Law that would cause harm to the encampment residents.

The City should work with the encampment residents and their advocates in finding alternatives to ensure their dignity and autonomy are respected.

CCLA is grateful to pro bono legal counsel Alexa Biscaro and Erika Anschuetz of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, for their representation in this case.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)
The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

One thought on “Opinion: Civil Liberties Association ‘concerned’ over Kingston’s ‘encampment evictions’

  • Kudos to CCLA for registering on the cruel policy and practice of Kingston City Council in the eviction of Belle Park encampment dwellers.

Leave a Reply

You cannot copy content from this page, please share the link instead!