Hamilton

Hamilton to remove 2 homeless encampments, local agencies file motion for injunction

Local doctors and harm reduction activists are hoping an urgent injunction on Thursday will prevent the city of Hamilton from its plans to dismantle homeless encampments at the end of the week.

The city has torn down two encampments of people who are homeless since the pandemic began

Mike, Shaggy and Lizzie were staying at Jackie Washington Park before the city tore down the encampment. The city now plans on removing two more. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Local doctors and harm reduction activists are hoping an urgent injunction on Thursday will prevent the city of Hamilton's plans to dismantle encampments of people who are homeless at the end of the week.

The Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team (Hamsmart), Hamilton Harm Reduction Action League (Keeping Six), Hamilton Community Legal Clinic and Wade Poziomka, say they filed the injunction after learning the city plans on potentially removing individuals from two local encampments on Friday.

"Councillors need to ensure that their decisions are in the best interests of all Hamiltonians, even the marginalized and vulnerable who may be unlikely to vote" Poziomka said in a release.

"Laws and bylaws can sometimes lead to unfair results and cause harm. That is precisely why staff have discretion in enforcing these bylaws. To simply point to a bylaw and say it must be enforced, despite the harm, shows frightening lack of understanding of municipal governance."

Hamsmart doctors Jill Wiwcharuk and Tim O'Shea sent a letter to city council two weeks ago pleading them to stop tearing down encampments.

The city has torn down two encampments of people who are homeless — one at Jackie Washington Park, another at the former Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School — since the pandemic began. It's also cleaned up belongings outside the FirstOntario Centre in downtown Hamilton, where inside, it has set up a makeshift 50-bed shelter.

Still, encampments keep popping up around the city. Some have two or three people in them, some 10 to 15.

Current encampments are on Ferguson Avenue North and on York Boulevard outside First Ontario Centre.

with files from Samantha Craggs

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