An encampment underneath the Third Street Bridge in Chatham. April 2023. (Photo by Millar Hill)An encampment underneath the Third Street Bridge in Chatham. April 2023. (Photo by Millar Hill)

Encampment debate pushed to September

A proposal was put forth to council Monday evening about encampment protocols, but it looks like we will be waiting a little longer to find out the next steps.

CK's encampment committee worked with a consulting firm to bring together a variety of key community partners in the planning stage to create protocols to address encampments on both municipal and private land.

Director, Legal Services at Municipality of Chatham-Kent, Dave Taylor, said the protocol was never meant to solve the encampment problem overnight.

"It at least gives us a framework through which we will work through encampment issues, it won't necessarily be a solution," said Taylor. "Rather, it gives that deliberative decision-making process, the engagement of various agencies, and various municipal departments to make sure we are making decisions that are informed."

Chief Administration Officer, Michael Duben, said he understands that people are struggling, especially businesses downtown, but it will take time for council to review all the aspects and do the leg work.

"Things can change tomorrow... I just want everyone to be aware that this is fluid, and we understand that we are under pressure to try and balance everybody's needs and we will come back with a report on this whole issue of whether we are able to have a location [for an encampment]," said Duben.

Duben reassured that the issue is being worked on, and while Ward 6 councilor Michael Bondy insisted on a timeline for a report back to council, Chatham-Kent’s general manager of health and human services Jodi Guilmette, offered up September as a time for when a report could come back.

"It will take us a little bit of time to really do a jurisdictional scan over the summer holidays we need to make sure we have the right people at the table having the conversations with us," said Guilmette.

Duben reiterated that this doesn't mean that if a situation demanding immediate reaction popped up they would react accordingly.

"I don't want it to mean that nothing will happen between now and the council report, it sort of depends on what situations we are dealing with," said Duben.

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