Peterborough to update parks bylaw in wake of tent city

It has now been 39 days since Peterborough's homeless community began pitching tents in city parks. The city's chief of police says his staff is continuing to keep a close eye on the situation.

Peterborough city council will vote Monday to update its bylaw for use of public parks and facilities.

The discussion comes after a month of people pitching tents on municipal properties following the abrupt closure of the Warming Room homeless shelter on July 1.


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Up to 40 residents were displaced and many have resorted to living in tents in areas such as Victoria Park (a park owned by Peterborough County), Peterborough City Hall and Beavermead Campground.

An extensive report by city staff says “recent events” in various parks and open spaces in the city underscore the advisability of a standalone municipal bylaw to “more clearly establish rules for share public use and enjoyment” of the city’s parks and open spaces and protection of the natural environment.

The recommendations for the bylaw include:

  • No person may be in any designated park between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. except as a participant or a spectator of an approved event (exclusions made for person on a trail for the sole purpose of traversing).
  • A permit will be required from the city to erect or be within a structure, hut or tent; sell or advertise for sale food, drink, goods, arts, skills or services; discharge or dump materials; light any open air fire and play any organized team sport.
  • No person in a park (without permission from a manager) may leave or deposit any waste, cook food, engage in a sport or similar activity, ride a bicycle or use a skateboard, rollerbladers or roller skates or skate.

The report notes, however, the city’s CAO may permit individuals to erect temporary structures such as huts or tents in a park without a permit only if the CAO is satisfied that the number of locally available shelter beds is less than the number of individuals in need of shelter.


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Enforcement will fall under the city’s trespass bylaw will include issuing trespass notices which could include fines of no less than $200 and no more than $10,000 for each day.

On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Mayor Diane Therrien will be hosting a community meeting on housing and homelessness. City staff will give an overview on the current housing and homelessness situation and review work done so far. The meeting is 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Peterborough Public Library.

WATCH: New bylaw being drafted in Peterborough to deal with parks and open spaces

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