Hamilton City Hall encampments raise concerns, mayor assures no forced evictions
Published May 11, 2023 at 12:16 pm
Homeless residents continue to live in tents in the Hamilton City Hall parking lot even after bylaw officers have sent them notices to move out. However, the people in these encampments fear forcible eviction, saying there are no clear signs of help on the horizon.
The scene around the encampments remained calm on Monday (May 8), with paramedics attending to individuals following the weekend downpour. However, a barricade was put up at the entrance of the campsite, indicating resistance after the city issued notices last week requesting people vacate the area.
“There have been increasing safety and health concerns at the location, for individuals in the encampments, community members and City of Hamilton employees,” Monica Ciriello, Director of Licensing & By-law Services, told insauga.com
“Most complaints received being from the general public, the nature of complaints involve garbage, open substance use, fires, propane tanks, staff health and safety concerns and potential risk to the heritage asset.”
“I’m just saying the impact of the communication falls to the councillor’s office,” he said.
“Again, I’m not able to effectively represent people, answer residents’ questions, and I’m left there kind of sitting and waiting.”
The new encampment protocol will be released this afternoon and will be posted to the City’s website under the Agenda for the May 17 General Issues Committee. I know this has been stressful and I’m hoping my colleagues will support this new approach.
— Ward 2 Hamilton (@Ward2Hamilton) May 10, 2023
“They’re working with individuals with different needs, they look at how to best engage and sometimes the engagement takes a bit of time and help them look at available housing options,” she added.
However, the reality remains different on the ground.
According to a tweet by the Housing Encampments Support Network (HESN), no housing was provided to any of the residents. Instead, they were instructed to relocate to a different park, fully aware that they would probably face displacement once more.
Not a single resident was offered housing — residents were told to move to another park, where they know they’ll likely be displaced again. They know this because it’s happened before.
— Hamilton Encampment Support Network (@HamOntESN) May 5, 2023
Mayor Andrea Horwath also reiterated in the council meeting that shutting down the camp by force is not likely.
“That’s not, certainly not where we want to get. What we’re trying, what we’re trying to do is provide assistance for people to find another space.”
Encampments in Hamilton have grown during the pandemic, with over 100 such encampments popping up in city parks and other municipal properties. Council will discuss this situation in depth and vote on the new housing protocol next week (May 17).