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Reports of People ‘Squatting’ at Monora Park

Reports of People 'Squatting' in Monora Park

“We did have an incident at Monora Park with an individual who was squatting in the park,” Kim Heaton, Director of Recreation for the Town of Mono, informed council at the meeting held on April 28, 2021.

According to Heaton, the person was approached on a Thursday and notified he had until the following day to gather his belongings and leave. On Friday, two town staff members, accompanied by police officers, escorted the man out of Monora Park. Heaton said they had presented to the individual opportunities to utilize community resources, which were supposedly employed for a short period.

That said, Heaton indicated that others had appropriated spaces in Monora Park as a place to inhabit.

“We’ve had other sightings of individuals who are ‘enjoying’ Monora Park as a place to live these days, and as we find them we are taking steps to remove them.”

It was not specified whether these additional spottings were of those believed to be of more people in need of support or were simply just looking for a place to camp.

The lack of adequate assistance for men who find themselves homeless compared to that available to women and children in similar situations has been a long-standing issue in Dufferin County. In 2020, Mono’s Deputy Mayor John Creelman had communicated that building a men’s homeless shelter should be one of Dufferin County’s strategic priorities. During that discussion, several county council members indicated that they would prefer to dedicate the resources needed for a homeless shelter, which is ‘meant to be the band-aid,’ towards longer-term solutions that fit the ‘housing-first’ model.

“We’d take someone and rather than saying ’emergency shelter, transitional housing, and then housing’, we grab them and we put them straight into housing,” said Anna McGregor, Dufferin County’s Director of Community Services, at a special meeting of Dufferin County Council held on October 22, 2020.

That conversation wrapped up with Warden Darren White explaining how “This sort of touches on that broader question of being a service provider rather than bricks-and-mortar,” referring to the county’s long-term care and social housing programs.

More recently, Orangeville’s Mayor, Sandy Brown, put forward a motion to establish a Mayor’s Special Committee on Men’s Homelessness to explore the matter of a men’s emergency shelter in Orangeville. In his motion, Brown acknowledged a need for such accommodations and other supporting resources in the town.

There were questions on whether Dufferin County should be taking the lead on the initiative. Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh, who expressed that he wished to sit on the committee, suggested that the committee may recommend the town hand the project off to the county once a plan has been developed to support men who find themselves homeless in Dufferin properly.

“It’s time. We are a compassionate community. We have people that care. We have leaders that care. All of you care. The county cares.” said Terrance Carter, who made a delegation to Orangeville’s council on the matter before it unanimously voted in favour of the Mayor’s motion. “We just need to move towards a solution.”

If you know of somebody in need of emergency housing, check out the resources listed by Dufferin County Community Services here.

References – Reports of People ‘Squatting’ at Monora Park

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