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Timmins announces new bylaw to curb loitering in parks

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While Timmins DIY Community Health Timmins met with people who are homeless and sleeping outside, the City of Timmins was enacting a new bylaw to curb loitering.

“We're … checking in and making sure that people who are living outside, who are living in tents, have everything they need and that their rights are being respected,” said Jason Sereda, member of DIY Community Health Timmins.

Sereda said his crew surveyed around 30 individuals Wednesday morning, asking about their current situation and how they may be helped.

“We have learned that, you know, people have had their things removed, their belongings, their coats, their tents, their sleeping bags removed by city representatives and we're not sure why that would be," said Sereda.

Around noon on Wednesday, the city issued a media release, announcing a new bylaw that will regulate the use of local parks.

City officials told CTV News that no one was available for comment, but its release stated:

“The bylaw prohibits public loitering between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and defines ‘loiter’ as the act of staying at or near a particular place for more than 20 minutes.”

Sereda said the new bylaw will make it harder for people trying to survive, and said other communities that have done this ended up having the bylaw struck down by the courts.

“It’s definitely our responsibility as a community to make sure that we're all working together and making sure that our most marginalized members -- those who might be sleeping outside or those who aren't able to access all the amenities that the rest of us -- can have those rights met,” said Sereda.

The Cochrane Social Services Administration Board said it’s trying to improve communication. It’s distributing a monthly neighbourhood update to people who live and work near Living Space and to clients who use the shelter.

Information flow

“And the idea is to just get a bit better information flowing between what's happening and the neighbours in and around the shelter,” said Nicole Swerhun, managing principal of Third Party Public.

The first newsletter came out this month and they will continue monthly for the time being.

“It's a recruiting one,” Swerhun said.

“We've had a bunch of applications already, which we're happy (about). The idea is to have maybe 15 to 20 people come around the table that includes neighbours, like individuals who live in and around the area, but also organizations like the downtown BIA or like the Youth Wellness Hub.”

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Cochrane Social Services said it’s working to improve operations at the Living Space Emergency shelter and at this time, it remains open to relocating if a better location is identified.

It’s also working to find ways to provide new supportive housing options that would reduce demand on the shelter, but these processes take time. 

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