Kingston: Account of Eviction of Belle Park Encampment

From Mutual Aid Katarokwi

Today the City of Kingston carried out their threat of eviction at Belle Park.  By-law officers and the police taped off all entrances to the park, and initially wouldn’t let supporters or residents in to pack up or claim belongings. Due to pressure from community supporters and allies, residents were allowed into the park to pack their things.

The city has failed to address homelessness for generations, and this has gotten worse during covid.

This eviction has nothing to do with housing solutions.  The narrative that “they were given other options, and didn’t want to live by the rules” is a callous lie. The Integrated Services Hub’s sleeping facilities are full every night and the new, publicly-announced location will be smaller. The east-end shelter was a 23-hour lock-down facility. We believe everyone deserves housing, with some say over who they live with and their own living conditions.

Supporters and allies have been saying for months, “an eviction will drive people further into the woods, away from services, away from allies who provide food, medical assistance, material aid and away from support finding housing.” That happened today. We helped move people and their belongings deeper into the woods, while police, city staff and by-law officers looked on. The City of Kingston knew this would happen, and proceeded anyway because people together can advocate for themselves, can be found and supported and can visibly show how broken and unjust our society is. Those optics are bad. Rather than address the housing crisis, the City of Kingston forcibly evicted residents in an effort to hide its failure.

MAKK, Belle Park residents, and other community organizations that have held this eviction off for months, and even today, created the space where some residents could get their things. It’s far from a victory, however, we are encouraged by 70+ people who came immediately to show their solidarity and the countless others showing support in other ways. Today’s events feel heavy and disheartening, and we worry about the safety, comfort and autonomy of our friends from the Belle Park community. We also continue to believe that better worlds are possible when we exert our collective power towards justice and dignity for all and hope you will join us in continuing that work locally.