Opinion: Has my city become ‘Mean Kingston’?

Kingstonist file photo.

Editor’s note: The following is a submitted opinion piece on the City of Kingston’s Daytime Sheltering Prohibition, part of the City’s Parks Bylaw, and the City’s new Community Standards Bylaw. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.

I am embarrassed these days. Why? Because Kingston is becoming famous for cruelty. 

Friends from other cities who have been reading the news can see what’s happening. Kingston’s ongoing attacks on the poor are not the kind of publicity that civic leaders should be cultivating. Nor should we be tolerating them.

In my accustomed walk in Belle Park, with my dog, I have witnessed a brave and resourceful park resident, whose courage and resilience I have admired for years, descend into despair in the face of the new City measures.

The Belle Park evictions frighten our most vulnerable neighbours. People supporting the poor and resisting the evictions are using the only instrument left to them — their own bodies — to protect their fellow citizens.   

Astonishingly, at the same time as our City is banishing people from their encampments, it is intent on making it illegal for them to hang around on our streets. The notorious new Community Standards bylaw (effective soon) targets people who loiter or urinate in public. Where are evicted people supposed to go? Where are the public washrooms that we need?   

This is a combination of cruelties that defies satire. The City has created a pressure cooker. It is unbelievable that City Council can be so mean-spirited, so short-sighted. And, frankly, so ignorant, by enacting these two policies simultaneously. 

Tents are springing up all over the city these days. I’ve noticed them in places where there were previously no tents. Shopping carts with piles of belongings are appearing where no such manifestations of poverty have been seen before.  

Kingston has criminalized poverty, frog-marching poor people out of their encampment only to target them with a cruel new bylaw. 

Dawn Clarke
Retired United Church Minister
Kingston, Ont.

Share your views! Submit a Letter to the Editor or an Op/Ed article to Kingstonist’s Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].

2 thoughts on “Opinion: Has my city become ‘Mean Kingston’?

  • I agree completely with Dawn Clarke’s article. Where are the homes for the homeless people at Belle Park? Council has cancelled the tiny homes project that could have helped some people, and seem not to be interested in the many other models of tiny homes that Waterloo Region and many other communities in Ontario are adopting. I believe there are 100 tiny homes in Waterloo right now!
    Pat Bowers, Kingston resident since June 2022.

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