'That's inhumane': Man forced to leave homeless encampment dismantled by region
A man is speaking out about his experience living at a homeless encampment dismantled by the region last week.
Shannon Burt said he was living in the encampment at Stirling Avenue and Charles Street in Kitchener until it was taken down by the region.
Burt said he and five others were living at the site for about two months. He claimed the residents woke up to bylaw banging on their tents at around 9:30 a.m.on Friday, Nov. 26.
“And we're being told to 'get out of the tent, move.' And it’s like...I’ve moved 100 times in three years. I don’t feel like moving today, and it was freezing cold that day,” said Burt.
That afternoon a front-end loader was used to discard the tents and shopping carts left on site.
Burt said the experience left him feeling "violated."
“They put it in the front and loader and just dumped it in the back of a truck,” Burt said. “Telling somebody they can’t sleep when all they need is to sleep. That’s inhumane. That’s torture.”
Burt is now staying at A Better Tent City on Ardelt Place in Kitchener.
A volunteer with ABTC said she went to pick-up Burt that day and said he was very shaken.
“Stuff that they’re putting in the garbage is worth gold to somebody and the shopping carts are being used to put their belongings in,” said Nadine Green with ABTC.
Over the weekend a large protest of about 200 people called out the region’s actions.
On Monday, a public apology was issued by the region’s Chief Administrative Officer.
"All residents deserved to be treated with respect and dignity," CAO Bruce Lauckner said Monday. "On Friday we failed to do that. Seeing the images from Friday hit a lot of people hard. It hit me hard. This is not who we are."
Lesley Crompton from the Social Development Centre of Waterloo Region was on site when the encampment was dismantled and says she was in shock.
Crompton claims regional officials stated they do not evict encampments at a Nov. 17 council meeting.
Regional council was told Monday that there would be ongoing discussions in December and a review would be presented at a later date.
“Any investigation into this break down with both the bylaw and housing systems should be done by an independent organization,” said Crompton.
On Monday the region said the role of police and the approval process of how it was handled will be part of the review.
It is unclear if the region or a third party will be conducting it.
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