Kitchener encampment remains intact as eviction deadline passes

The eviction deadline for people living at an encampment at Victoria and Weber Streets in Kitchener has come and gone, but most residents of the property say they’re not moving.

Earlier this month, the Region of Waterloo posted a notice at the site saying people living there needed to leave by 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 30. As the date neared, the region announced last week no police or bylaw would be at the encampment on eviction day. Instead, if residents didn’t leave voluntarily, the region said it would seek direction from the courts.

Those at the camp on Thursday told CTV News around 10 people have packed up and left the site -- far from the exodus the region was hoping for.

Numbers actually appeared to grow as demonstrators joined to show support for encampment residents.

“I think it will take a little more than just giving us a sign that says ‘get out by this date,’” said Jason Paul, who lives at the encampment. “They need a plan or some place for us to go. They can’t just literally throw us on the street.”

Another resident, Steven Taylor said he planned to stay at the site as long as he could.

“I have everything here, I have a nice tent. Why would I give it up just because some guy says ‘hey this looks bad,’” said Taylor.

Demonstrators who lined Victoria Street in front of the encampment on Thursday said they don’t plan to stop protesting until each person in the encampment has a home.

“As community members, if there's not appropriate housing being offered to these residents then we think that the encampment should be allowed to stay," said Melissa Bowman, an organizer with Waterloo Region Yes in My Backyard.

Last week a large demonstration in downtown Kitchener asked the region to throw out the eviction order.

Another rally is being organized Friday in Victoria Park.

FRUSTRATIONS AND HOPES TO MOVE ON

Meanwhile those who work at businesses nearby, said they’re frustrated.

“We were hoping to see them evicted today,” said Audrey Spieker, who works nearby. “The region has done nothing to help us keep our businesses safe. At this point the safety risk is quite high and we’d like to be safe at work.”

Spieker said local businesses have suffered since the camp started.

“It’s been going on for far too long now, businesses here all understand that they need somewhere to go, but this is not an appropriate location,” Spieker said.

Those who call the camp home, also hope they’ll have somewhere else to stay soon.

“Ideally some type of affordable housing,” said Paul. “For me, even finding a room to rent.”

Paul, who sells his art at the camp, is hoping his creations will help him get a new start.

“It’s a good little side gig to get a couple extra dollars, still waiting to sell that one piece that will get first and last months rent,” he said.

REGION NOT AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT

The Region of Waterloo plans to build a transit hub on the property. The region has previously said when people first started living on the site, they were told they'd have to move out by the fall when construction is scheduled to start.

CTV reached out to the region for an interview or comment on Thursday, but they declined both.

The region has said it will now be involving the courts, saying this is a way for the people living on the site to make their case and others who wish to comment to weigh in as well.

Exactly when that might happen remains unclear.

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