May 1, 2020
“They just said you can’t be here,” said Shaggy, who has bounced around Hamilton for nine months since moving from Windsor. Shaggy said he was first told to vacate by Friday, but later learned he can stay until the middle of next week. “I guess we’re not very popular around here. We keep on being pushed out.”
Street outreach groups like Keeping Six and the Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team are outraged by the deadline and threatened eviction.
They argue cities like Edmonton have announced a pandemic “pause” on clearing tent encampments from public land to avoid forcing vulnerable people to move around during the COVID-19 crisis — or off-the-grid, away from services.
Thy also point to pandemic guidance offered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19,” the website states, citing the risk of dispersing vulnerable resident and spreading the disease.
“One-eyed” Mike, left, and Shaggy, right, in their camp in Jackie Washington Rotary Park, where they are living in tents.
“The bottom line is you can’t just tell them to move on again and again,” said outreach doctor Jill Wiwcharuk, who spent Friday lobbying city councillors.