Citing health and safety risks, the City of Kingston posted trespass notices at the barns on the Memorial Centre property on the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.
This comes after those seeking shelter were utilizing the barns earlier this month, seemingly allowed to do so with the City having paused the encampment bylaw that prohibits camping in public parks due to the ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases in Kingston, particularly among local vulnerable populations. And although there is no indication those using the barns were present or the cause, a fire broke out at the barns in the early morning hours of Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.
The trespass notices posted today “will prohibit sheltering at this site,” the City of Kingston said in a press release, “afternoon to address the immediate health and safety risks for those at this location.” The notice goes into effect immediately, according to the City. According to the notices, “Kingston Police have the authority to act on behalf of the City if you are found engaging in the prohibited activities on the premises.
“This location has rapidly become a dangerous situation for multiple health and safety reasons,” CAO Lanie Hurdle said in a statement. “Emergency services are consistently responding to concerns from electrical tampering to space heater fires. Add to this the COVID-19 risks during a time of increased spread, and this location becomes a very dangerous place to shelter.”
The City said it is “constantly working” with its community partners to “free up safer alternatives to shelter, but that the “recent upswing” in COVID-19 cases has “impacted services tremendously.”
“Our shelter capacities have been cut by half in order to provide isolation space for those who have tested positive and are in a vulnerable situation,” said Ruth Noordegraaf, Director of the Department of Housing and Social Services for the City of Kingston. “But we’re optimistic about some new initiatives like the warming centre and multiple affordable housing projects that will be online soon.”
Home Base Housing’s Street Outreach Team – who have reportedly been visiting those sheltering in the barns frequently to offer services, according to the City – also visited the site this afternoon, the City of Kingston said, reporting that the Street Outreach Team found no one sheltering in the barns, “but will continue to check on this site and many other locations nearby to ensure the safety of those sheltering outdoors and offer services.”
For anyone experiencing homelessness or concerned about a person experiencing homelessness, the City of Kingston suggests calling one of the following phone numbers, which will alert the Street Outreach Team: