Cleanup plan moves ahead for former homeless encampment in Sudbury's Memorial Park

After being the centre of a homeless encampment, Greater Sudbury is getting ready to do some cleanup work in Memorial Park to ensure it is safe.

The homeless encampment was in place for more than a year and was finally closed April 1. Now work needs to be done to address health and safety issues.

"Over the next couple of months you can expect to see some heavy equipment in the park as landscaping and repairs to any damaged property within the park," said Stefany Mussen, the manager of corporate security and bylaw services with the Greater Sudbury.

"And the reason for that is just the health and safety concerns that may have come from human waste or sharps being located within the park during the time of the encampment."

The work will delay the opening of the splash pad in the park.

"We are going to come in, we are going to do a vacuum then we will come back and re-evaluate," said Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc.

"We will do a second vacuum then we are going to come in and do some landscaping and underneath some of these pine trees, instead of going with grass, we will use wood chips. With the play structure, we are going to do a temporary wood chip structure."

The city aims to have the park returned to a safe and enjoyable area in the next two months.

"The whole point of closing the encampment in Memorial Park was to make it a safe space for all of our citizens to use and so the end goal of the restoration project will be to have the park be open to everyone," said Mussen.

At this point, the cost of the cleanup and reclamation is unknown.

"Until we get in here and do everything, the cost is unknown to us at this point in time but it is a cost to the taxpayer that is an unbudgeted item for our 2022 budget," said Leduc.

Officials with the YMCA confirmed it plans to reopen the daycare later this month. Its outdoor play area backs onto the park.

It was relocated last November due to health and safety concerns about needles being covered in snow.