WRPS board to develop policy on homeless encampment calls

By Mark Pare

It was an afternoon that shocked the community.

Heavy equipment, moving in to take out a homeless encampment set up at Stirling and Charles in Kitchener, an incident that drew condemnation from community groups and local leaders.

Bylaw officials led the charge, while Waterloo Regional Police officers were on scene as well.

There was a protest, and a petition calling for change in response.

Regional council passed a motion in December, emphasizing that eviction of these camps is supposed to be a last resort, and requires more officials to be involved in the decision making.

However, this policy only covers regionally-owned land, as that's the only land council has jurisdiction over.

Now, Waterloo Regional Police are looking into developing a policy to set a standard on how to deal with calls about the region's most vulnerable, including those camps.

Police Chief Bryan Larkin said the goal is to be consistent across the region, to engage with these vulnerable residents and get them the help they need.

A report is expected to come forward during a police board meeting in March.

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