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Sudbury seniors feeling unsafe due to nearby homeless encampment

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A beautiful garden in downtown Sudbury used to be a safe haven for residents living in the Ukrainian Seniors Centre.

Unfortunately, residents say that’s no longer the case because of what’s located on the other side of the fence: a growing homeless encampment.

“Not healthy and safe for the tenants anymore because they're scared to come out,” said Jim Dufour, who has lived here for five years.

“And you can't blame them, you know, because you don't know what you're going to find. Needles all over the place, garbage all over the place. So what are you going to do? Something's got to be done.”

Anna Johnston, the centre’s executive director, has been here for 15 years. While problems such as discarded needles, garbage and individuals defecating on the centre’s property aren’t new to the area, problems have escalated considerably.

“We've had to lock down the gates, add extra fencing,” Johnston said.

“They were jumping over the fence just to access our water, or to lounge and spend the night. So in the morning, you wake up and you're surprised. I've had to add extra security for the doors because they were found inside the building, as well.”

CTV News contacted the City of Greater Sudbury and received a statement that said, in part:

A beautiful garden in downtown Sudbury is no longer a safe haven for residents living in the Ukrainian Seniors Centre because of what’s located on the other side of the fence: a growing homeless encampment. (Lyndsay Aelick/CTV news)

“The City of Greater Sudbury continues to use the encampment response as outlined in the Encampment Response Guide, which can be found here.

“The city does not have any approved encampment locations or provide regular services like garbage pickup at encampment sites. We will clean up areas when an encampment is no longer in use, and we have, on occasion, worked with community partners to support an encampment cleanup with the encampment residents.

Altercation took place

“Bylaw continues to monitor encampment locations and will ensure connections to support services as a primary response. Encampments may be required to be moved if they are too close to schools, daycares, playgrounds, on private property or pose health and safety risks.”

While CTV News at the site Thursday with police, an altercation took place between two individuals. At the same time, a harm reduction outreach group was also, nearby offering community health care services.

For her part, Johnston said the residents just want some support.

“Just talk to us, help us out here, and let's nip it in the bud while it is just a small problem before it escalates, like other areas of town,” she said.

As of Thursday, the city said there are 177 people residing across 39 encampment locations. 

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