Sudbury

Groups work to help those living in Memorial Park as power out until spring

Outreach groups and the city continue to work to help those living in Memorial Park in downtown Sudbury, as the power to the park has been out for more than two weeks and temperatures remain low.

Spokesperson with Greater Sudbury Hydro said 2 power cabinets were vandalized

An outreach worker said about eight people are still living in Memorial Park in downtown Sudbury. (Jonathan Migneault/CBC)

Outreach groups and the city continue to work to help those living in Memorial Park in downtown Sudbury as the power to the park has been out for more than two weeks and temperatures remain low.

The power went out in the tent encampment on Dec. 28. 

Wendy Watson, a spokesperson for Greater Sudbury Hydro, said police notified the utility of vandalism to two power cabinets in the area. She said they were broken into and extension cords were connected to them.

Watson said that kind of tampering creates an extreme hazard of high-voltage electrocution. The Electrical Safety Authority ordered the power be shut off.

Tyler Campbell, director of children and social services with the city, said work will be done in the spring to fix the cabinets. He added they will also be made weather and tamper proof at that time.

"There were some individuals that were connected directly to receptacles in Memorial Park."

He said to fix the problem, excavation work is required, "which is best done in the spring."

Campbell said they continue to work to connect people with services and housing, and it's important to note the city currently does have shelter capacity.

"At our main shelter at 200 Larch for example, we've had capacity open since Dec. 21, excess capacity available."

'Toughing it out'

An outreach worker who visits Memorial Park nightly said some people are now more vulnerable than ever, especially with dangerously frigid temperatures.

"We don't have space on those urgent nights where everybody needs to be inside," said Evie Ali, a volunteer with the Go-Give Project.

"We have space for the majority of the individuals that are regularly accessing low-barrier shelter services but we still do not have enough space to be inclusive to those in Memorial Park, those already accessing the low-barrier shelter services and then those that are the new turnover onto the streets."

Evie Ali of The Go Give Project in Sudbury says, 'We have space for the majority of the individuals that are regularly accessing low-barrier shelter services but we still do not have enough space to be inclusive to those in Memorial Park.' (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Ali said eight people are still living in Memorial Park "toughing it out."

"They're using each other, they're using lots of blankets," she said.

"We do try to encourage them into other resources, especially on nights when it is minus 35."

Ali said people avoid shelters for various reasons, including safety concerns.

Some are banned from using the shelter services.

"There's a lot of mental health issues, cognitive instability," she said.

"Some of these clients have repetitive behaviours for aggression, uttering threats, things like that. So some of them have found themselves to be banned from resources, not allowed back."

She said the resources for people in that situation are limited.

"You are expected to have your wits about you, follow rules and be able to take care of yourself to be able to access these facilities," she said.

"Not everybody has that ability, unfortunately."

With files from Kate Rutherford

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