'It's heartbreaking': Homeless camp in Kitchener dismantled by Region of Waterloo
KITCHENER -- A sudden eviction at a Kitchener encampment is raising questions and concerns.
On Friday, a homeless camp on Stirling Avenue and Charles Street was dismantled by the Region of Waterloo.
"It's heartbreaking," said Tonya Verburg, the CEO of Ray of hope. "If people want to live in tents, we need to find a spot for the tents then."
Lesley Crompton of the Social Development Centre of Waterloo Region saw the dismantling happen.
"We witnessed the eviction of five individuals from an encampment," she said. "The encampment has been there for two months.
"It is disturbing and disappointing that we are seeing these types of things happening within the region given the House of Friendship's [temporary] closure."
Ray of Hope is next door to the encampment. Verburg says the people who once lived at the site came in for hot meals.
"Their belongings, a lot of them are going to be thrown away," she said. "I know they received warnings so they could've maybe packed up, but it's really difficult."
Police were also present for the eviction, but say there were no arrests and the region was the lead regarding enforcement.
"Throughout the week we worked closely with community partners to support the individuals in the encampment," a statement from the Region of Waterloo reads in part. "We also worked diligently to notify residents that they could no longer remain at the encampment and needed to access other housing services by today."
The region adds that all the individuals left on their own and are connected to outreach services and supports in the community.
Around 4 p.m., staff arrived to remove the rest of the belongings that were still on site, while a bulldozer took away all signs of the encampment.
"After today, where are they supposed to go?" said Jude Oudshoorn. "They are going to set up a tent in another place because housing is totally unaffordable, completely unacceptable what happened today."
Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic went to Twitter on Friday, telling a community advocate he's "extremely concerned" by how the camp was dismantled and hopes regional administration will conduct a full review on the matter.