Homeless residents won’t be forced to leave their camps in public areas like Polson Park, as long as local shelters are full.
City council debated putting a daytime time limit when tents would be not allowed, but councillor Scott Anderson was the only one to support the idea.
“I think we have to balance the needs of young families and people who want to use the park free of danger, with the needs of the homeless, and I think we have put no parameters on that.”
Anderson proposed a time limit of 7 am to 7 pm to prohibit temporary shelters.
Councillor Juliette Cunningham says a time limit would be problematic.
“Until we have other resources in the community where we can direct that population — even a place to store their goods for the day — it does not seem feasible or reasonable to do that.”
Cunningham says it would have led to the the displaced campers spending days in the downtown.
Mayor Akbal Mund agrees a time limit is not the answer.
“They have nothing to do, so it’s not like they can go to a John Howard Society or transition house and hang out there. They are going to set up comp somewhere within the downtown core until they can go back to the park,” says Mund.
Mund says says bylaws staff will be able to break-up camps if there are health or safety concerns.
Council voted 6-1 to receive a report titled “options for temporary shelter in parks and public spaces from the manager of protective services, for information; and that enforcement of the Parks and Public Places bylaw be suspended in circumstances where homeless individuals are seeking temporary shelter in public areas during periods where shelter space is not available in the community.
Protective Services Manager Clint Kanester told council there are about nine camps in the park now.
“If there is no time limit, we would like the ability to limit the camp size,” said Kanester.