//Timeline of Key Events_
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Keeping Six, in partnership with HAMSMaRT, have relentlessly and cooperatively engaged with City leadership, social service agencies, front line workers, and encampment residents themselves to not only challenge the established approach to dismantling encampments, but also work towards a public health and human rights-based strategy. Follow the timeline below for highlights of key events and efforts on this pressing matter.
March 17, 2020
- K6 and HAMSMaRT shift service provision from weekly drop-in to laugh thrice-weekly outreach sessions. This affords us the opportunity to connect directly with folks living rough.
April 6, 2020
- In response to the high volume of requests from people seen on outreach, K6 and HAMSMaRT begin collecting tents, tarps, and sleeping bags to distribute to folks sleeping rough. The announcement is made through our weekly newsletter.
April 18, 2020
- K6 is informed on outreach that residents at the long-standing encampment at Sir John A MacDonald School were given notice to move within a week.
April 19, 2020
- K6 requests that report back from outreach be a standing item on weekly homeless sector COVID-19 management meetings.
April 20, 2020
- HCLC/HAMSMaRT/K6 release a joint statement calling on City of Hamilton and Hamilton Police Service to immediately stop ticketing individuals who are homeless and living in the same shelter under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (“EMCPA”), and City of Hamilton By-Law 20-056.
April 21, 2020
- HAMSMaRT and K6 join meeting convened around encampment management by the City of Hamilton.
April 22, 2020
- Mental Health and Street Outreach (MHSO) and Hamilton Police Service and Paramedic Social Navigator Program (SNP) have and continue to vigorously engage encampment residents in accessing shelter. Many access shelters and hotels; many were back at encampment within days, for various reasons.
April 25, 2020
- SJAM cleared without incident with support of MHSO and SNP. K6/HAMSMaRT supports encampment residents unable to access shelter, housing or hotel to move after the city fails to arrange transportation as agreed upon. Several residents move to Jackie Washington under advisement that the City could better support them on municipal property.
April 27, 2020
- Residents at Jackie Washington given eviction notice; City Homeless Sector staff intervene to extend deadline.
April 29, 2020
- Email from HAMSMaRT and K6 requesting to sit down with Jason Farr who responds he will speak to staff and get back to us.
May 1, 2020
- K6 and HAMSMaRT convene “house meeting” at Jackie Washington to better understand the needs of encampment residents and implications of being displaced. This info is conveyed to the city staff directly.
- K6 offers to send peers to York and Bay to engage in community maintenance of portopoties, which have been damaged. No response to K6 offer, which is conditional on some remuneration for peer work.
May 6, 2020
- Jackie Washington encampment residents cleared. People’s belongings are destroyed and people lost to health and social service support. Two people and their dogs housed before the park was cleared. One person moves two blocks away to Ferrie St encampment.
May 10, 2020
- Email to Jason Farr, in follow up to April 29 request for meeting; no response. Throughout the entire encampment debate, Jason Farr has never spoken directly to K6 or HAMSMaRT.
June 4, 2020
- City staff have repeatedly conveyed that they are unwilling and unable to change approach to clearing encampments to align with Public Health and Human Rights best practice. Legal team sends letter to City of Hamilton requesting negotiated solution, with the intention to litigate failing that. The letter also requests a meeting between parties within a week.
June 11, 2020
- Release of Love in the Time of COVID, K6 Arts Collective Zine focused on experience of being homeless during COVID.
June 26, 2020
- HAMSMaRT, K6, and legal team sit down with City Solicitor, General Manager of Healthy and Safe Communities and the Director of Housing Services for a productive conversation about solutions to encampments in Hamilton. Our team is encouraged to take our request for change in approach to encampments to council. Next opportunity will be the Emergency and Community Service meeting on July 13.
June 30, 2020
- In response to growing need, K6 launches Tent Drive.
July 7, 2020
- HAMSMaRT, K6, and legal team sit down with the City Solicitor, General Manager of Healthy and Safe Communities and the Director of Housing Services for a productive follow-up conversation about solutions to encampments in Hamilton.
July 9, 2020
- Follow up correspondence with City staff to better understand Encampment Task Force. One page description of task force received. No response to request for more fulsome publicly available documentation about the current approach to encampments and the current steps taken to assess the level of risk and determine the steps that might need to be taken described in the one-pager.
July 10, 2020
- Notice of imminent “clean up” of York and Bay encampment. City staff request the support of K6 on site to support. With less than a day’s notice, K6 and HAMSMaRT and other community organizations send support teams to help residents with larger items and the site is deemed clean enough by City and agency staff to have “heavy machinery” called off.
July 13, 2020
- Written delegations to Emergency and Community Services by Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, HAMSMaRT and Keeping Six. Councilor Nann moves that City encampment working group include an analysis of UN Rapporteur on the Right to Housing’s Human Rights-based approach: A National Protocol for Homeless Encampments in Canada. The motion is carried with Councillor Whitehead voting against understanding a human rights-based approach. Councilor Clark moves that the City solicitor report back to the ECS on the implications of the legal precedent from BC.
July 17, 2020
- Second “clean up” of York and Bay encampment ordered. This time, K6 and HAMSMaRT and other community members were given less than an hour notice. Supporters sent and “clean up” successful.
July 22, 2020
- K6 convenes first front line encampment support service coordination meeting with several City and social service agencies and workers. This group has met weekly since then.
July 28, 2020
- Call from the Director of Housing Services notifying that encampments at York and Bay and Ferguson would be cleared on Friday, July 31. Director said every effort would be made to provide people with alternatives, but confirmed that those who could not be accommodated would be forced to move on.
July 29, 2020
- Notice of eviction walked back by City. After a flurry of correspondence between our legal team and the City’s, we are unable to obtain written assurances that City no one will be displaced against their will. Thus, a motion was filed to the courts requesting an injunction against the City of Hamilton, prohibiting the dismantling of encampments.
July 30, 2020
- Dozens of residents respond to the call from HAMSMaRT K6 and the HCLC to write to their councilors to request that residents not be moved.
- A temporary 10 day Injunction against the dismantlement is granted by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
- K6 and HAMSMaRT release a public statement in response to misinformation being circulated about our position.
- Terry Whitehead says we should be investigated for our work on encampments.
August 3, 2020
- The Hamilton Spectator publishes an opinion piece by K6 and HAMSMaRT co-counsel, Wade Poziomka, responding to Council’s political spinning of encampments.
August 7, 2020
- The City does not challenge the extension of the injunction against dismantling encampments. It is extended until a court date can be set in September.
August 9, 2020
- Councillor Terry Whitehead’s op-ed about encampments is published in The Hamilton Spectator.
August 8-10, 2020
- Keeping Six does a survey of encampment residents on a model on City Camping that has been adopted in Victoria BC. Encampment residents generally receptive to that model.
August 11, 2020
- Maureen Wilson releases nuanced statement about encampments
August 14, 2020
- Two Hamilton social workers respond to Terry Whitehead’s op-ed.
August 21, 2020
- After a four hour in camera discussion, Council votes 9-3 in favour of challenging the injunction in court instead of a negotiated solution.
August 31, 2020
- HAMSMaRT and Keeping Six again reach out to City Council and staff to request dialogue and a negotiated solution that can better address the needs of the entire Hamilton community. We did not receive a response to this request.
September 16, 2020
- Council follows staff direction regarding the encampment injunction and parties agree to enter confidential settlement discussions.
September 30, 2020
- A deal is reached
October 7, 2020
- The Superior Court of Ontario lifts the injunction, permitting the City to move forward with the dismantling of encampments.
October 8, 2020
- K6 & HAMSMaRT launch a duffel bag, tote, and suitcase drive to help people move from the soon-to-be dismantled encampments.
October 14 – 15, 2020
- City dismantles Ferguson and FirstOntario Centre encampments
October 20, 2020
- K6 sends an email to the City requesting information on the plan moving forward to support folks on the ground. No response.
October 21, 2020
October 23, 2020
- K6 receives a call from City staff requesting support in reducing the number of tents at Jackie Washington Park to five, and in clearing John-Rebecca Park, which the City deemed a playground.
- K6 follows up by requesting clarification on the enforcement at Jackie Washington, and our legal team followed up with the City’s legal team. We received no meaningful response from either party.
- Having heard nothing from the City, K6 and HAMSMaRT members to John-Rebecca to find two people already displaced with nowhere to go. Rest are permitted to remain.
October 27, 2020
- Jackie Washington was reduced to five tents, with some residents moved to hotels. Remaining residents were given two weeks.
October 28 – November 3, 2020
- Various emails were sent to encampment task force members to secure meetings to discuss strategy and protocol implementation going forward.
October 29, 2020
- John-Rebecca park dismantled. Two people are moved to a park at Wilson and Victoria; one person to a hotel.
November 9, 2020
- Our legal team sent a letter to the City expressing concerns over various incidents and the ongoing approach to encampment protocol enforcement.
November 12, 2020
- We hold a meeting with the encampment task force to voice our concerns over its actions the weeks after lifting the injunction.
August 9, 2021
- Hamilton City Council holds an emergency closed session meeting to repeal the encampment protocol, voting 10-2 in favour of abandoning the negotiated settlement.
August 10, 2021
- K6 issues a statement in response to the City of Hamilton repealing the encampment protocol.
November 2, 2021
- Ontario court rules against second injunction.
- The application regarding the constitutionality of Hamilton’s by-laws relating to encampment continues, with a hearing date to be set.
November 24, 2021
- Police tactics escalate as they confront Hamilton Encampment Support Network volunteers supporting encampment residents being evicted from JC Beemer Park. Six members of the HESN are arrested and charged
March 14, 2022
- The charges against members of the Hamilton Encampment support network are dropped.
March 30, 2022
- City Council votes to approve $416,000 for enhanced bylaw enforcement.
- The application challenging the constitutionality of the by-laws prohibiting encampments continues to make its way through the Court. We will provide updates on hearings and developments as they are known.
Encampment injunction report back
January 15, 2020
Streamed live on December 10 at 8pm
Join us to hear about our experiences and what we learned, as well as to share your feedback on the injunction process and impact. We will reflect on our successes, as well as the shortcomings of our collective work. Then we will consider what the next steps might be in supporting people who are homeless and unsheltered in Hamilton.