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Cambridge residents express concern over homeless encampment at proposed CTS site

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Frustration and emotions were high at a town hall meeting as residents expressed their concern over a homeless encampment at the proposed Consumption Treatment Services site in Cambridge.

The Thursday evening town hall meeting was held to discuss community safety.

A number of residents shared stories with city councillors about how they’ve been impacted by the encampment growing outside the proposed CTS site at 150 Main Street.

“The immediate community around 150 Main is suffering,” one resident said. “I’ve seen the neighbourhood activity dwindle down to nothing.”

Some concerns were raised over traffic and pedestrian safety as well as affordable housing.

“I was able to get financially stable and put a roof over my kid’s head. I bought my very first home Aug. 15, 2022, on Shade Street, right across from 150 Main Street,” another resident said. “That was my very first home and I don’t regret buying the home. I regret buying the neighbourhood.”

The majority of the pleas centered on the tents in the parking lot of the proposed CTS site, with many fearful about what they say are growing levels of crime.

“I witness firsthand the countless overdoses in the parking lot,” said another resident. “Many who are intoxicated or high, staggering around the parking lot.”

An encampment at 150 Main Street in Cambridge is seen in this undated photo.

Mayor Jan Liggett shared how her own family has been affected.

“One of my children had somebody try to push their way into their home and had to get that person off the property,” said Liggett. “My grandson makes his mother check the windows at the doors every night, twice, and then he gets up later to check it himself.

“Everybody here is listening and are appalled by what you are going through as well as your neighbours.”

Near the end of the meeting, some residents expressed support for a sanctioned encampment site in the city to help manage the level of homelessness and reduce the level of crime in the downtown core.

There’s no indication yet as to when or how council might act on the input received Thursday.

 MORE MAYOR REACTION

In an interview Friday, Mayor Jan Liggett said the majority of the concerns council heard from residents are things that have been discussed for years, but fall in Waterloo region’s jurisdiction.

“Most of the problems brought to the table and the questions brought to the table were items that we don’t have control over,” she said. “We don’t have the legislative ability to solve any of those problems or attempt to. It was an educational process.”

Mayor Liggett said, as a member of regional council, she will bring the stories she heard forward to the region.

“Those stories help us get to the end, they help us get there. They’re that push,” she explained.

Additionally, Liggett said the problems that were raised highlight the need for regional restructuring.

“This was just a very small indicator of why that sort of thing is necessary,” she said. “It’s not just planning issues, it’s safety concerns as well.”

CTV News reached out to Waterloo region for an interview. The region could not provide an interview or comment on the subject.

Correction

An earlier version of this story stated the encampment was at a CTS site. In actuality, it is at the proposed location of a potential CTS site.

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