Kitchener-Waterloo

Tent city to relocate behind leather factory on Mill and Madison St

The Region of Waterloo says they've been negotiating with the group for tent city and they've surpassed their stay on Tuesday.

The group temporarily moved to Sandhills Park, where a stabbing occurred after a noise a complaint

For several years, the group Tent City has advocated for affordable housing. They are camping outside regional head quarters. (Carmen Ponciano/ CBC)

A group of homeless people belonging to tent city are moving to their third location in a week, this time taking their camp behind an old leather factory at Madison and Mill Street. 

They had been camped outside the Region of Waterloo courthouse since Wednesday but were told by the region they had to leave by Monday. 

On Monday night, the group moved to Sandhills Park and began setting up camp there but were advised they could not stay there either.

 What they're saying is 'the options we're presenting you is to either leave or you're getting arrested.- Julian Ichim, tent city organizer

On the same night, a stabbing occurred at the park. Waterloo Regional Police Service said they are still looking for a suspect from the incident.

The victim who was stabbed was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Gloria MacNeil, the director of bylaw enforcement at the City of Kitchener, said the city received a complaint about noise at Sandhills Park Monday night.

The stabbing occurred at 12:30 a.m. later that night, a release from WRPS said. 

MacNeil said the city allowed the group to stay at Sandhills Park until Tuesday at noon. 

"We did that as a way to work with them and allow them some time to regroup and figure out where to go," she said  

"We do not permit camping on any city parks and we do a have a parks closing bylaw which doesn't permit people to sleep on a park between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m." 

The group has also been told they are not allowed to camp on city property, MacNeil said.

'Negotiating' and relocating 

Deb Schlichter, the director of housing at the Region of Waterloo, said she has been speaking to the group since Wednesday and the camp's relocation was a "negotiation." 

"They agreed to move on and that was sort of how we did it, it wasn't an eviction by any sense of the term," she said.  

Schlichter said the region was "checking out what their intentions were and asking them to make longer term plans."  

But Julian Ichim, one of the main organizers of tent city, said they were "kicked out." 

"When they're saying 'it's a negotiated move', basically what they're saying is 'the options we're presenting you is to either leave or you're getting arrested,'" he said. 

"That's not really giving people options... they're criminalizing homelessness and poverty," said Ichim. 

Ichim said the group is looking to move to a different location, such as behind the old leather factory at Madison and Mill Street, in Kitchener. 

"Nobody has been using it," he said, referring to how the area has been abandoned. 

"We've talked to the neighbours and there's support among the neighbourhood. People from the neighbourhood have come out and brought stuff... most people we've talked to from the community support what we're doing and what we stand for," Ichim said.  

Long term solutions 

Ichim said the group is still working with the region to "house everyone" despite being asked to relocate. 

"That should be the goal, to get everyone into housing, not just everyone in tent city but the whole homeless population," he said. 

Schlichter ​said the region "has a relationship with the group." 

"The point the group is trying to make is that it's not easy to find affordable housing and they're struggling with access to different options," she said.

"So we made sure they know what options are available to them, like the shelters and how to connect to housing resources."

With files from the CBC's Adetayo Bero