Campout held in Victoria Park meant to underscore homelessness crisis
An event spanning 24 hours with the aim of bringing attention to homelessness was held at Victoria Park Friday night, despite city staff saying the plan could violate bylaws.
The event is called "The Unhoused Experience: 24hr Challenge" and started at 6 p.m.
Late Friday night, CTV News was told the event had been peaceful, as only a handful of people could be seen around the fire.
"For us, the city saying no one is allowed to be in the park, in a tent, or anything after 11 p.m., that's the reality that we're demonstrating through this event," said co-organizer Jaime Stief. "If people have nowhere safe to go, they have to find somewhere to go."
The event comes one month after protestors gathered outside an encampment in Victoria Park after the City of Kitchener closed public access to Roos Island as part of an effort to relocate people living in an encampment there.
The event was organized by Fight Back KW and The Alan Ryan People’s Defense Brigade, which are described as anti-poverty social justice groups.
Organizers say the experience is meant to show what living rough is like on a daily basis, which includes being told where they're allowed to sleep.
"When we hear people say that, 'camping in tents gives me that autonomy I need to feel sane' and the city saying 'get out of the park', we're seeing a conflict and we're not seeing a resolution coming from the city," said Stief.
The City of Kitchener said municipal bylaws do not allow tents or other structures to be in the park, and they communicated that to organizers of the event.
In an email to CTV News, the city said if requests to dismantle structures are ignored, bylaw officers will hand out trespass notices, and in extreme circumstances, will issue a fine of up to $5,000 and may ask police to provide assistance
A park bylaw states all events must end by 11 p.m.