Tent city at North Bay city hall cleaned up after confrontation with city bylaw officer
NORTH BAY -- After a tense few days, a tent city located in front of North Bay city hall where homeless people had taken up residence is being cleaned up.
Shayne Moyer, who said he was wrongly evicted from his home, started the protest by himself on the lawn. Up to 20 more homeless people joined him in the fight to demand more support from all levels of government.
"I'll pack up and leave, but you'll find me here the next morning, and you'll find me here the following morning and the following morning," said Moyer, who vowed to return Wednesday.
Moyer was informed that the city's bylaw officer, Ron Melnyk, was scheduled to serve eviction papers to the group Tuesday afternoon.
When Melnyk arrived, he and Moyer got into a heated argument and Moyer asked where the other homeless people were supposed to go.
De-escalated the situation
Bryan Eade, outreach coordinator with the Downtown Healthy Communities Ambassador program, stepped in and helped de-escalate the situation.
Eventually, after Melnyk left, protestors agreed to pack up their belongings, take down their tents, and make their way to one of three shelters: Crisis Centre North Bay, Hope Awaits Ministries, or the city’s emergency shelter.
Eade said there was enough room to accommodate everyone. The Boots-On-The-Ground program helped provided transportation.
Moyer told CTV News he's not planning on going down without a fight.
"Homelessness is increasing and it's increasing at a rapid rate," said Moyer. "Our city services wait until we are kicked out to the curb before they step up to the plate. I asked bylaw how he felt about chasing people all over the city, and he had no answer."
Moyer said there are between 120-180 people in North Bay who are currently living on the streets with nowhere warm to stay. With winter on the way, he fears for their safety.
"I'm doing this for all of the homeless," said Moyer. "Not just in North Bay, but for other communities, as well."
Peaceful protest permit
Moyer said he's currently working on obtaining a peaceful protest permit. He argues there is not enough shelter space to accommodate the homeless.
"Their big issue is that tents are here," said Moyer. "Everybody is allowed to utilize any picnic area or camping area for refuge. It's our right. The homeless people have nowhere to go."
Dave Mendicino, North Bay city councillor, said there are options for the homeless in the community at the low-barrier homeless shelter on Chippewa Street or at Crisis Centre North Bay.
The latest statistics from the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board shows 182 people were experiencing homelessness in 2018 in the entire Nipissing District, which in includes Mattawa and West Nipissing. The group of protesters said that number is a lot higher now.
Mendicino said a lot of problems occur when other municipalities give homeless people one-way bus tickets to North Bay to find services and shelters. He said by doing so, it takes up shelter space for those already living in the city.
"I get upset when I hear a social worker, again from southern Ontario, has put a homeless person on a bus without picking up the phone to ensure that person has services here," he said.
Mendicino asked the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board to reach out to their provincial counterparts about the issue, saying it needs to be addressed immediately.
Over at HOPE's Kitchen, a local pay-it-forward restaurant that serves hot meals to the city's hungry and homeless, co-owner Chris Brown said the demand for food, clothing, supplies and blankets has doubled in the last two weeks.
"It's gotten really bad in North Bay," said Brown. "We used to feed, in the outreach program, about 25-30. We're up to 50-60."
The kitchen's outreach program runs Thursday to Sunday.
A protest in support of the homeless people is being organized for this Friday.