Skip to main content

Eviction a last resort in Waterloo Region's new homeless encampment policy 


After public scrutiny on how the Region of Waterloo used a bulldozer to remove a homeless encampment last month, council has voted on a new homeless encampment policy.

The policy is intended to prioritize safety and respect for those experiencing homelessness.

“Our policy states that everybody deserves to be treated with respect,” said Regional Chair Karen Redman.

The policy, which was voted on during Wednesday night's council meeting, states regional staff must first offer supports and services to those living in encampments, and only use enforcement as a last resort.

“I don’t think anybody felt good seeing that piece of machinery moving people’s goods,” Redman said.

The policy comes after the Nov. 26 forced eviction of a homeless encampment set up on the corner of Charles Street and Stirling Avenue in Kitchener.

Staff used heavy machinery to remove tents and items.

Redman said she and regional council were not aware of the eviction, citing lack of communication.

“There were terribly disturbing videos and images of people’s belongings being moved by machinery, and it was something that neither the CAO or I knew about it.”

She said she doesn’t know who gave the green light to go about the eviction that way, but said senior staff, such as herself, should have been part of that decision making.

“I think the decision was made for the safety of regional workers. I don’t know if it was necessarily the right or wrong decision, but it was a decision that should’ve gone up the hierarchy for decision making,” she said.

The new policy now states top managers must be part of any decision making around homeless people.

“We’re just reiterating that this is the protocol that needs to happen on a go forward basis. So it’s providing clarity for everybody, and senior management should know,” Redman said.

Ray of Hope, a community supports program, said the new policy is a step in the right direction.

“I think the region has understood that it’s important to reach out and have better communication. But in the meantime we still need to feed the over 400 people that are living on the street,” said Lawrence Lutgendorff with Ray of Hope. Top Stories

Stay Connected