Region installs temporary fencing at 150 Main St. encampment

By Brent Cater

For months a small group of tents housing homeless individuals has resided at 55 Kerr Street in Cambridge – the location of a private development.

As a result, in early September the company owning the property told residents to leave the area. 

Residents then moved a few feet from the original location to the adjacent regional owned parking lot. 

On Wednesday, the Region of Waterloo installed fencing around the more than a dozen tents on site – creating a small partition at the east end of the region's social services building lot.

In a statement to CityNews 570, regional staff said the temporary fencing was installed to “provide a protective barrier between individuals at the site and cars using the parking lot.” 

Staff added the region continues to work with outreach partners who have been visiting the site on a regular basis. 

Kitty, a resident of the encampment who spoke with CityNews 570 said she and others we're notified of the fences by the Region last Friday. 

She argued the fences are protecting those in the encampment from alleged outside abuse. 

“The fence is to make sure we have protection from people coming in and harassing us because we've had a couple people come in and throw eggs at us and try and start fights.” 

When asked how she felt about the fences, Kitty said she was happy to see them in place. 

“Honestly I prefer it – because we have dogs here too.” 

She added, in addition to the fencing, the Region has told her they would be installing porta-potties at the location on Monday. 

Greg, another resident of the encampment, argued the fences were “pointless.”

“What's the point of it.” said Greg. “It's not going to stop anybody from coming in, nobody is coming over and hassling us.” 

Greg added that he would like to see the money that was spent on the fences put to better use – like funding a new plot of land the encampment could use. 

The region has indicated its top priority is to connect individuals with safer housing options as quickly as possible.

They acknowledged, however, that individuals experiencing homelessness are suffering complex issues with significant trauma, mental illness and addictions, adding that the pandemic and the housing crisis has only worsened the issue. 

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