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Timmins offers details about new loitering bylaw aimed at vagrancy

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The City of Timmins has provided more details about a new bylaw that regulates the use of local parklands.

Among the long list of rules, one of them is no overnight loitering. Thursday, city clerk Steph Palmateer outlined why the new bylaw is in effect and how the city plans to enforce it.

The goal, Palmateer said, is to help make them more enjoyable for everyone. He said the bylaw is a result of the public asking for it.

“The main issue appears to be vagrancy,” Palmateer said.

“And, you know, some of the, I'll say the litter that's left behind, such as needles and things like that from, you know, people who are unfortunately doing that sort of thing in our parks. And it's getting to the point where parents don't feel safe bringing their children into our community parks.”

Some of the rules include no abusive language, no begging or soliciting and no loitering for more than 20 minutes between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Palmateer said people who set up tents to spend the night would be asked to leave.

“In accordance with our existing protocol, yes, we would go pay them a visit,” he said.

“We would, you know, talk to them and typically we've been adding them to the by-names list for, you know, the services that are available in Timmins. And we haven't had any issues up to this point. The voluntary compliance has been exceptional.”

However, Jeff Schlemmer, executive director of Community Legal Clinic of York Region, told CTV News there could be a legal issue that arises from the bylaw.

“If they decide to go ahead, knowing as they do that the law is illegal, then we will do what we can to get it in front of a judge so a judge can tell them what judges have told other Ontario municipalities recently, which is everybody in Canada has a right to shelter in a public space,” Schlemmer said.

Palmateer said the city’s bylaw enforcement department will respond to complaints within 24 hours and police will respond to emergencies and any overnight occurrences. 

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