There are now more than 50 tents scattered across Victoria Park in downtown Peterborough as the city searches for a solution to assist displaced residents.
On July 1, the Warming Room homeless shelter closed after its lease at Murray Street Baptist Church expired and wasn’t renewed due to building renovations. The closure left several dozen homeless people displaced.
Many have turned to camping on municipal property, including Lincoln Harris, who pitched a tent on Monday.
“A lot of my buddies go down here (at Victoria Park),” he said. “They hang out. Apparently, everything has been all good. Now I’m out here. I’m just going to be hanging out and seeing what everything is all about.”
Harris decided to resort to a tent after feeling unwelcome at a temporary home.
“There were roommates there that I didn’t really want to be there around. I want to be out and doing my own thing,” he said. “I like it out here with all the people that really do support me.”
Peterborough Public Health has been closely monitoring the growing number of displaced people living in tents. They inspected a number of the sites last week and will be conducting inspections twice a week.
“There were no immediate health concerns that we identified,” said health inspector Julie Ingram.
Some hazards related to tent living include heat-related illness, exposed sewage and general sanitation.
“When we look at infection control, hand-washing is one of the most important things you can do,” said Ingram. “Ensuring that some of the residents living in tent city right now are getting to some of the facilities such as one roof to wash up is a really important message that we want to keep communicating.”
Global News Peterborough reached out to Mayor Diane Therrien’s office on Monday for comment but was informed she was in meetings all day discussing possible solutions to address the tent city.
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