No decision from Woolwich Township council on relocating A Better Tent City
“I absolutely oppose this to a point where I might have to sell,” said Jay Hollings, one of about a dozen delegates who presented at Tuesday night’s meeting.
A Better Tent City is a community of tiny homes and tents currently at the former Lot42 site on Ardelt Place. That property sold earlier this year and the residents, mostly homeless, have been asked to relocate by the end of June.
The group has been eyeing moving to 53 acres of farmland on Spitzig Road in Breslau. The group plans to use about five acres of that space.
The community expressed mixed opinions on the proposed site.
“(It's) a good way of bridging the gap between being on sheltered and permanent housing,” said nearby resident Heather McLarnon.
“I’m just worried they’re going to be walking across Victoria Street, hanging around our plaza, roaming the streets, kind of thing because they really have nowhere else to go,” said Norm Wylie, a Breslau resident.
Some concerns raised at the council meeting were a lack of amenities nearby, lack of transportation options and its proximity to a high school.
“Kind of thrown out in the field where they’re just kind of forgotten about,” said Wylie.
Volunteers with the group said that's not the case.
“The residents are not simply left to fend for themselves,” said A Better Tent City volunteer Jeff Willmer.
According to the group, volunteers will be there to help transport people to places as needed and said food and other services will be offered on site.
“Healthcare services come to the site courtesy of the Sanquen health bus, not only physical health services but mental health and addictions counselling as well,” Willmer said.
Forty of the 50 residents would move to the new site, if approved. On June 9 the proposal will go back to Woolwich Council.
“Exactly what we will be discussing will depend on what kind of application they put in,” said Sandy Shantz, Woolwich Township’s mayor.
The mayor expects the process will take time and likely more community consultation.
“We won’t be able to get through process by June 20 so they will need to find a least an interim space,” Shantz said.
June 20 is the date the group plans to leave their current site. The group is asking the township to speed up the approval process.
“The township can take a regulatory approach to this talking about due process and so on or they could take a compassionate approach,” Willmer said.
During the council meeting there was talks about finding an interim site. The idea of moving the group to a Catholic school property was floated.
The Waterloo Region Catholic District School board said in a statement to CTV News:
“We certainly support the work and initiative of A Better Tent City and of Tiny Homes Take Out – it is very much rooted in our gospel values. But with that said – at this point it is far too early to comment – as this idea has just surfaced,” Director of Education Loretta Notten said in an emailed statement to CTV Kitchener.
The farmland in Breslau is currently owned by the Hamilton Diocese which is on board with A Better Tent City's plans to move there.