Skip to main content

Encampment cleared at Soper Park in Cambridge


Crews with heavy machinery moved in early Thursday morning to remove the remaining property and debris at an encampment at Cambridge’s Soper Park.

Encampment residents who spoke to CTV News said while the clearing was peacefully and orderly, it wasn’t voluntary.

Residents received trespass notices from the City of Cambridge last Friday, saying they could face charges of fines if they didn’t leave by Wednesday.

The land belongs to both to the city and the Canadian Pacific Kansas City Limited railroad company.

Police and bylaw officers were at the encampment during the week, as people living there packed up their things.

According to outreach workers and advocates at the scene, encampment residents were given until midnight Wednesday to clear out their belongings.

U-hauls were brought in to help people move their things.

As many as 50 people called the encampment home.

Homeless advocates told CTV News most people don’t have anywhere else to go.

“Last I heard there were 30 people that are being displaced and as we know there is not space for these people in the region’s shelter system, and spaces are not accessible,” said Ashley Schuitema, a lawyer from Waterloo Region Community Legal Services.

On Wednesday night, Schuitema also appeared before Regional Council, asking politicians for action to deal with the homelessness crisis in Cambridge.

She referenced a previous encampment at 150 Main Street which was cleared out, prior to people setting up at Soper Park.

“The stories we have heard about how the closure at 150 Main was voluntary do not align with the stories we’ve heard from people who were living there,” Schuitema said.

“We ask that you … immediately designate a place in Cambridge where people can tent, because they have nowhere else to go.”

In January, a judge ruled a different encampment on regional land in Kitchener could stay until proper housing was found. Lawyers said the same should apply here.

“We’re certainly thinking about what the legal options are for these people who are experiencing these evictions,” said Schuitema.

City officials said their priority remains ensuring that individuals are being connected to appropriate outreach services.

The city and region told CTV News they did not authorize the heavy equipment on site but lawyers said the same was seen during other evictions, and that it doesn’t matter who ordered it.

“It’s very frustrating to see that no lessons have been learned here,” said Schuitema.


For some residents who live nearby, seeing residents leave the encampment is a welcome change.

“It almost feels like a sense of entitlement like they should be there, which is unfortunate, because it’s not the case. If you want to stay somewhere, you have to be respectful,” said resident Alexis Sabourin.

Sabourin presented to city council last week saying she stopped walking through the park after she was stopped by several men while trying to pass through.

“As soon as I left, I broke down in tears,” she said.

Sabourin admitted she lived on the streets of Cambridge for about seven years but said she expects another encampment to take its place somewhere else.

“And it is a huge game of whack-a-mole. It is unfortunate, but it is what it is. I was fortunate enough that my husband waited for me to get sober and I had a home to go to, otherwise I would have been in the same boat,” she said. Top Stories

Stay Connected