Kingston to enforce ‘daytime sheltering prohibition’ in City parks

City of Kingston and Kingston Fire & Rescue vehicles and personnel on scene at Belle Park on the morning of Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024, as the City announced it will begin enforcement of a daytime sheltering prohibition in public parks this April. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

Despite opposition from those legally representing the residents living at the encampment at Belle Park, the City of Kingston has announced its decision to begin enforcement of “daytime sheltering prohibition” in City-owned parks.

On the morning of Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024, the City hosted a press conference in the parking lot of Belle Park. There, City of Kingston dump trucks were seen bringing in loads of soil. It remains unclear at this time what the soil will be used for. A number of City of Kingston, Kingston Fire and Rescue, and Kingston Police vehicles were also on scene.

According to a press release from the City of Kingston issued during the press conference, the City will begin “applying the Parks Use By-Law (#2009-76)” with “support from community partners” on the week of Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2024 (Monday, Apr. 1, 2024, is a holiday). The City said the work towards this action “begins today in a respectful, safe and empathetic manner.”

“For people who have been sheltering in parks, this means that tents and other temporary shelters must be removed one hour after sunrise and cannot be erected until one hour before sunset,” the City stated.

The City of Kingston further said that, following the Superior Court of Ontario decision in late 2023, “City staff will be applying the Parks Use By-Law in all municipally owned parks,” and that City staff “have been implementing procedures for dismantling permanent and/or semi-permanent structures erected in City parks, enforcing fire bans in City parks, and establishing other procedures intended to protect the security of the City’s parks and infrastructure, address life safety concerns and promote the safe use of City parks.”

In December 2023, the City of Kingston said it had “no specific timeline set” for enforcing a daytime camping ban at the encampment. At the same time, John Done, Executive Director of the Kingston Community Legal Clinic and the legal counsel for those living at the Belle Park encampment, wrote an open letter to Mayor Bryan Paterson and Kingston City Council, pointing out that the Superior Court had not ruled that a daytime camping ban was constitutional, and urged the City to apply to the Superior Court again for an injunction regarding a potential daytime camping ban, should the City want to enforce it.

Since then, there have been several fires at the Belle Park encampment, including one where a person was injured. This has led to the enforcement of fire safety protocols including the removal of large tents and semi-permanent structures, as well as the issuing of ‘Immediate Threat to Life Notices,’ as the City has announce multiple times in the first few months of 2024.

In today’s press release, the City said that, to “facilitate the upcoming change” to a daytime sheltering ban being enforced, “municipal and agency support staff are proactively communicating” information about these changes to those people who are currently camping in public parks. The City mentioned this work involves a partnership with Street Outreach workers, who are “on site and actively engaging with people staying in parks, informing individuals of options, and receiving feedback on how the enforcement of the by-law will affect them.”

The City went on to say that those people staying in City parks currently are “being offered support services, indoor spaces in which to shelter, transportation, and storage options for their belongings.” To facilitate the daytime sheltering prohibition, daytime storage options for shelters and belongings are expanding, the City said, as are drop-in services. This aims to “support those transitioning out of the area during the day,” according to the City.

“We acknowledge enforcement of the Parks Use By-Law is difficult for people who are currently sheltering in City parks,” Brad Joyce, Commissioner of Infrastructure, Transportation and Emergency Services with the City of Kingston, said in a statement.

“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.” 

Kingstonist has reached out to John Done and the Kingston Community Legal Clinic for comment on this development but Done is currently out of his office and no further response has been received at this time.

More information about Encampment Protocol Procedures is available on the City of Kingston website, where the public can also provide feedback on the protocol procedures.

Kingstonist has a reporter at Belle Park currently. This is a developing story with more to come.

With files from Cris Vilela.

2 thoughts on “Kingston to enforce ‘daytime sheltering prohibition’ in City parks

  • Can the city officials not find other things in this city to work on besides picking on the most unfortunate. Maybe come up with some real solutions to homelessness ?

    • Sometimes the solutions don’t meet with the approval of those they’re being offered to. Like maybe needing to share a room with someone else in order to have place to call home. Unfortunately, there isn’t always enough room to house someone in need individually. We’re seeing more and more of this: people who were in social housing 20+ years ago are still in a 3 bedroom home today, when they’re now single and their children have all moved out. They don’t want to leave because of the memories that were made, but the waiting list of those with children waiting to find housing are 200+ families long – community housing can’t justify a single person living in a 3 bedroom house, yet they’re also being made out to be the bad guy when they ask that person to move to smaller accommodations.

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