Statement from Mayor Therrien regarding Parks and Facilities By-law

full bike rack

Exterior of City Hall

Peterborough, ON - Since Peterborough City Council passed the new Parks and Facilities By-law on August 12, there have been requests from the community for more information about how residents will be expected to comply with the changes it contains, including the prohibition of camping in City parks without a permit.

Although I issued a joint statement with County Warden Jones on August 14th indicating that compliance with the by-laws is expected, and that both the City and County are committed to working with people who are homeless and living in the rough to connect them with shelter and housing, I understand that my comments at the Community Meeting on Housing and Homelessness at the Peterborough Public Library on August 13th need to be clarified.

I want to reassure all residents that it is my intention to continue moving through this difficult situation with compassion and understanding, while at the same time, respecting and protecting our collective ability to safely enjoy our public spaces. This is the approach I have taken since the beginning, because I strongly believe that our community is at its best when we work together to look out for those who are most vulnerable while ensuring that every resident feels safe, secure, and included.

As with other by-laws, typically the City’s practice is to first inform, educate, and assist people in order to achieve compliance, before contemplating any further measures, such as ticketing and fines. Municipal enforcement of by-laws is not meant to be a punitive measure.

The City will continue to follow this practice with the Parks and Facilities By-law, and at this time, Social Services outreach workers continue to engage with each individual who is homeless and living in the rough to understand their specific needs and desires, in order to move them to the By-Name List and connect them with appropriate housing services and supports.

The City is strongly encouraging individuals to move indoors through the shelter system and emergency overflow beds, and is asking those who are living in the parks but who have a home to immediately remove their tents.

Residents, including those living in the rough, can expect the City to proceed with empathy and understanding. But I want to be clear - living in our parks is not a safe situation for anyone involved, and that is why the City will be enforcing the new By-law in the manner I have described. The health and safety of all involved is a priority.

While these developments have occurred, there is also positive movement towards new short- and medium-term options for those who are homeless in our city, and I am committed to keeping residents informed of these options as they are confirmed.

We have also seen our community come together in a number of ways to fast-track below-market rent housing developments, with recent announcements being made by organizations such as the Mount Community Centre and Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region, as well as other options that will help alleviate some of the housing pressures in our region, such as the new student residences being planned by both Trent University and Fleming College. I want to thank everyone who is pitching-in to address our shortage of housing across the entire continuum, including City Staff, and to support that work, I have refocused the Rapid Shelter Task Force to assist with those developments, while continuing to bring together community partners and those from the housing sector.

I know that, working together in this way, we can overcome the challenges we are experiencing and ensure that all residents feel safe, secure, and included in our community.

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For more information, please contact:

Brendan Wedley
Manager of Communication Services
City of Peterborough
705-742-7777 ext. 1636

Ashley Webster
Assistant to the Mayor
Office of the Mayor
705-742-7777  extension 1870
Toll Free 1-855-738-3755 extension 1870