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Community health van says parking ban prevents them from delivering lifesaving care in Cambridge


It’s not often a parking dispute has life or death consequences – but in Cambridge, Ont. a community health organization says a parking ban is keeping them from doing their lifesaving work.

Sanguen Health does community outreach with vulnerable people, providing medical care and harm reduction supplies.

“We see folks that have abscesses. We see folks that are living outdoors and have things like trench foot,” said Simone Morrison, manager of outreach, education and prevention for Sanguen Health. “A lot of our folks are experiencing really complex healthcare challenges. It is a matter of life and death.”

The organization says since 2017, they have parked the van on Market Street, steps away from The Bridges shelter. But they say in July of last year, the city told them they could no longer park there.

“All of our locations are very intentional,” Morrison said. “We want to go to places where we know people are spending their time and accessing other services.”

A look at some of the supplies inside the van. (Jeff Pickel/CTV News)

Sanguen Health says other attempts to find a suitable location nearby have failed.

“Sanguen leadership and the K-W team, we’ve really exhausted all of the options in close proximity,” Morrison said.

City says it’s a road safety issue

According to the city, there has always been a parking ban on Market Street and the Sanguen van caused a safety issue.

“The reason that it was declined was that we need emergency vehicle access, and of course resident access, down those streets, especially in prime hours,” said Alana Russell, director of communication for the City of Cambridge. “We know that that area has high call volumes for emergency vehicles, which block both the lanes around The Bridges area.”

The city says they’re open to finding a place for the van – but not on Market Street.

“We have yet to be invited to any kind of conversation or collaboration with the region or with Sanguen, we're happy to participate in that conversation, but we want to do so in a way that ensures we are handling this with the safety, security and well-being of all residents in mind,” Russell said.

Market Street in Cambridge is seen on March 21, 2024. (Jeff Pickel/CTV Kitchener)

For now, the Sanguen van will still make stops once a week at the Cambridge Food Bank.

CTV News reached out The Bridges shelter, who chose not to comment on the situation.

There is also some discrepancy on when “No Parking” signs appeared on Market Street. Sanguen says they were not there when they started using the location. The city says the signs, and the parking ban, have always been there. Top Stories

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