A Better Tent City is a new solution for the homeless; a cluster of shed like structures to help house people who are not sheltered in the shelter system. They have access to a communal kitchen, showers and bathrooms. The ability to have access to a hot shower is understandably appreciated as well as the sense of security. At the moment, there are under 20 units and they are temporarily located on Lot 42, 41 Ardelt Place.
Lot 42 is zoned in a Heavy Industrial (M4) zone and the closest residential homes are 1.3 kms away. It isn’t in anyone’s backyard so they can easily avoid any NIMBY-ism. Honestly, I feel a lot of people would agree with me that this type of location is the best. They have privacy and they are not affecting anyone’s personal investment.
As much as people hate NIMBY-ism, the homeowner’s opinion should be considered since they are the stakeholders who have invested into the City for years and the City in turn, has zoning rules to maintain stable investments. Ignoring that zoning, or weaving in-between loopholes shouldn’t be accepted by the Planning Department or City Council. Especially if it’s being lead by someone who was once a public servant as the Chief Administer Officer for the City of Kitchener.
But the Ardelt Place location is only temporary and on their presentation 1001 King St E seems to be Stage 2. 1001 King St E is located between Ottawa and Borden, it is surrounded by family homes, schools and daycares. DTK residents by the way that have been pillaged during COVID-19 with a unprecedented amount of theft and property damage. Understandably, people who feel left behind are upset and enraged without their needs being met. As well as not having a permanent private residence to hide in and for the last few months they have been taking it out on the DTK neighbourhoods.
So, as most of you know, my thing is to end homelessness, to encourage the availability of starter homes and increase the supply of rentals. We have to encourage multiple solutions to fix our housing crisis because the current situation is dire. Will 1001 King St E fix DTK’s current spike in crime? Or will it depend on how many units they can supply? Is there a sweet spot? If they fill the whole lot with units will it be perceived as a ghetto? Will it actually become a ghetto? And where is our Planning Department to allow multiple sheds on one property? I wonder if I would be allowed to have 10 sheds in my next backyard…
Read Civic Hub’s full presentation here: https://civichubwr.org/wp-content/uploads/LiVinci-Final-Presentation-1.pdf
Differing opinions with or without solutions are encouraged.
Reference for news article on making “A Better Tent City.”
Kelly-Ann Callaghan Co-founder
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Updated** June 19th 2020
I made the mistake of not including my background with or around homelessness. In this political climate, people are quick to jump and label people as Alt Left or Alt Right without giving grace that someone could want a balanced solution that helps everyone who lives in the City of Kitchener.
I didn’t include it before because it seems self congratulatory and awkward. But for most of my adult life I have raised money for local homeless programs. Sorting food at the Food Bank, donating when I can to the different shelters throughout DTK and mostly harassing everyone I know about donating for the Coldest Night of the Year – every year whether I was walking or not. To be mostly ignored. Neighbours who love to complain about the problems but not willing to put their money where their mouth is and help fix the issue. Sorry but that’s how I feel.
As a young child, I had an uncle that my father took care of that had a mental breakdown and suffered from mental health and addictions. I realized then, that without a home he couldn’t be helped lifted to be the best person he could be. If he went off his meds and drifted away, a stable home allowed Police to bring him back. It allowed Public Health nurses to come in and check on him. It allowed him to volunteer and contribute to society versus being a threat. An unmedicated paranoid schizophrenic is a threat, something we dealt with regularly in our home. I recognize this is not the average homeless person. That a lot of people lose a job, were in a bad relationship or were grieving a loss and then become homeless. The current shelter systems in Kitchener, do everything they can to help the majority of people who fall into homelessness. You need to be non-violent and not using and be able to listen to the rules and you are welcomed into our local shelters.
Which relates as to why I am concerned about this Better Tent City more and more I read about it. In my opinion, people who do not want to be in a shelter or are not welcome into a shelter need the most assistance. They need to have better safer homes. Being clustered together in something that is called “better than a tent” in a “city” is not okay. No matter where they move their BTC, whether it is Site 2, or somewhere else. There should be a shed cap made by CoK or RoW Planning. For the safety of the people living in these sheds, they should be max capacity at 20 units and should be 10ft apart. I am afraid without heating, with or without insulation, someone will make their own heat sources. In the current setting, if one catches fire, will they all go up in flames?
Before COVID I would have said on the topic of homelessness, you are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution. But watching regular filmed footage of a friend’s home being damaged has made me realize what King East Neighbourhood deals with on a regular basis. I have been told, in the past, that they have tried to email their Councillor and it has fallen on deaf ears. I know personally, I have been told by CoK Council that you can’t control what people do on private property. But that is a lie, that is exactly what zoning does. It tells you what you can and cannot do on your private land.
So – with a little background information on myself – and without just commenting and calling me alt right – if you’re okay with a BTC on King St E, that’s fine. But if you want to see some change, what would you change? Would it make programs more spread out throughout the core of our cities? Do you feel that there needs to be a cap on the amount of sheds or are you willing to raise money for a better solution? Whether that’s from your own pockets or putting pressure on local government to reallocate some funding that way? Finally, with COVID and what is happening there (KENA), who should take responsibility? Ditching and allowing these families to suffer by themselves without support is not okay either. I am not saying “Away with the homeless people!” I am saying “How can we help and can that small community really support another homeless service?”