London politicians restrict where homeless people can camp

City politicians passed new rules Tuesday for where homeless people can pitch a tent, but not before a marathon debate about restrictions that could impact the current 120 people and 15 pets living in camps in London. 

The three-hour discussion included debates over amendments and amendments to amendments, before councillors ultimately voted to pass the community encampment response plan. 

“London, like many other cities in Canada, is facing a health and homelessness crisis. There are many encampments in our city and there continues to be a critical need for affordable housing in our community,” Chantelle McDonald, the director of services at outreach group London Cares and one of the authors of the encampment strategy, told a city committee Tuesday night. 

The plan is supposed to help officials manage encampments — anytime one or more people who have nowhere else to go pitch a tent or create a shelter on public or private property. 

Tuesday’s report, is part of the city’s larger response to homelessness and includes guidelines for where encampments cannot be set up, how and when they are taken down by officials, and what health and safety and other supports they require. 

The ultimate aim of the plan is to get people living on the street inside where there are supports and resources. It also outlines the role of outreach teams in performing wellness checks at encampments, and providing support and essential items as needed.

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