Council was told security hired to prevent encampments wouldn’t make arrests. One councillor is questioning why city documents say otherwise.
It’s late. The doors are locked. There are no lights on. There are no windows.
A small cluster of people are huddled on a folding cot, trying to make themselves comfortable as they wait for a city official to come and talk to them.
One is sitting at the far end. Another is standing on the bench near the front left. By the back wall, there’s a man who’s curled up in a corner. Two others are just sitting there with their backs to the group.
“They’re waiting for the cops to show up,” said one woman, who identified herself as Marika, 21.
Marika and a handful of other people had their camping gear confiscated just a few weeks back, at the beginning of a spring storm that left dozens of tents in the city without heat, shelter or heat lamps since early April.
At that time, people in the homeless community were informed that there would be no arrests.
But after the incident came to light a few weeks later, it was a different story.
A group of volunteers had begun helping with the city’s shelter and outreach program, but police said the camping out of people in tents was interfering with the program’s mission.
That’s when city officials met with Marika to address the matter.
“Then they told me that a few extra people were going to be arrested for camping,” she said in an interview. “They said,’We’re going to give you a call, we’re going to give you a call. And then I didn’t hear anymore.”
Eventually, a meeting with police was scheduled, and it was decided that people caught camping would be arrested, even if there was no threat to public safety.
“That was a big disappointment,”