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Councillors hear another side of the encampment story from irate residents

Councillors hear another side of the encampment story from irate residents

Ward Two Councillor Jason Farr, who has been the butt of much criticism from community activists over his attempts to control homeless encampments has issued a public statement on the issue. At a meeting of Planning Committee, Tuesday, 14 residents told councillors what it is like to have a homeless encampment in their neighbourhood. Farr noted it was the first occasion where councillors have heard from impacted residents and business operators.  In a statement, Farr stated “all residents and business owners … felt enforcement was not working and issues related to encampments have gotten much worse. In fact, Farr stated that the latest number of encampments have now spiked to 44 in the city from around 20 encampments on August 9th. Prior to yesterday’s Planning Committee meeting, councillors have only received delegations from outreach doctors and advocates supporting encampments in parks and speaking out against the City of Hamilton by-law and other housing and homelessness efforts.”

Continued Farr, “Every day that goes by that we do not enforce in a sustainable lasting way, the problems only get worse.”  Councillor Farr went on to say, “When we hear from those directly affected about their neighbours moving out of downtown, the damage and crimes to their properties, the public displays of drug use, nudity, sex, assaults, defecation… and a growing fear for their very safety, it is obviously extremely concerning.”

Some of the comments by residents included:

Julie (a business owner in the Central Neighbourhood); spoke of the vast increase in crimes with “multiple break-ins, trespass and violent incidents.”  Enraged by the inaction of the council requested enforcement, she said that by not addressing the issues just “makes things deteriorate further.”  The victim of a physical threat herself, she has at great expense fenced off her property and placed security cameras on every wall yet also shared with Councillors that there may now also be an insurance risk if she continues to make claims. She has also refrained “from porch pick-ups” for her business and has experienced “great financial losses.” And now questions her decision to move her business to Hamilton.

Paul (a business operator near John Rebecca Park); “Its tough to run a business when there’s an external force not having to abide by laws that we have to” sharing that many by-laws are being violated by encamped individuals – not just overnight camping.  But open use of drugs and alcohol.

Ted (resident near John Rebecca Park); said there has been a “24-7 occupation at John Rebecca Park”  A park in the heart of Beasley Downtown that was celebrated as a conversion from a surface asphalt parking lot only recently. He also spoke to the waste, drug dealing, drug use and massive amounts of garbage that piles up.  “The time for meetings is over – people are fed up,” said Ted who also remarked that three of his neighbours moved out of the downtown because of the encampment issues.  Two doctors and one Nurse. 

Erica (a resident of the Stinson neighbourhood); Explained “Crime is up 111%” in her neighbourhood. She listed the many encampments in Stinson that include Carter Park, Wellington at the Clairmont, Behind Central Memorial Rec Centre and others – “Roaming at all hours collecting whatever they deem worthy of stealing.” – “We shouldn’t be normalizing this behavior.”

To view the delegations, click here:  The delegates speak from 2:08:30 to 3:36:30

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