Metropolis to place safety cameras in John Rebecca Park to handle encampment considerations

The town’s public works committee has unanimously voted to set up safety cameras in John Rebecca Park to attempt to tackle considerations about an encampment there.

John Rebecca Park has been dwelling to some individuals experiencing homelessness, which has created tensions between encampment residents, some individuals in close by buildings and neighbouring companies. 

Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr launched the movement Wednesday, saying the cameras would mitigate crime and vandalism, whereas additionally offering extra security for metropolis staff who want a police escort to enter the park.

“Proper now, children should not splashing round, households are staying clear and adjoining enterprise operators are each mystified and horrified,” Farr advised CBC Hamilton in an electronic mail, including that cameras are simply certainly one of many potential steps to handle the problems.

He mentioned in the course of the assembly it would not price greater than $35,000 and there could be an evaluation on how individuals’s privateness could also be impacted earlier than the cameras are put in.

A bald man with glasses sits at a desk, his hands folded in front of him, and reads aloud from his computer.
Coun. Jason Farr presenting a movement to put in CCTV cameras in John Rebecca Park at a Public Works assembly on Aug. 10, 2022. The movement handed 8-0. (YouTube)

Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson seconded the movement, saying what’s gone on within the park is “atrocious.”

He mentioned he beforehand helped get cameras put in at Fay Rink Park and Lisgar Park to stop vandalism and located success, although he famous the vandalism did not appear to be the product of an encampment.

All different councillors current — Esther Pauls, John-Paul Danko, Maria Pearson, Russ Powers, Arlene VanderBeek and Nrinder Nann — voted in assist of the movement.

Tensions with neighbours 

Some individuals dwelling and dealing within the neighbourhood surrounding John Rebecca Park have voiced what they really feel are security considerations associated to the encampment.

Paul McDonald, supervisor of the Soiled Canine Saloon and Membership 77, each of which sit immediately beside the park, beforehand mentioned he is beefed up safety to maintain patrons from interacting with individuals within the park.

“There is a concern from us that the 19-year-olds, the patrons, our employees, they’re all susceptible to… strolling themselves right into a violent scenario, as a result of you do not know what could occur should you stroll by way of the park,” he mentioned.

A grafitti'd wall with a sign that says 'Dirty Dog Saloon'.
Supervisor of Soiled Canine Saloon and Membership 77, Paul McDonald, has raised security considerations about John Rebecca Park regardless that the park was established after complaints about violence at Membership 77. (Cara Nickerson/CBC)

McDonald mentioned that an encampment resident just lately tried to assault him when employees have been getting ready to open the bar for the night time.

“These incidents, they occur frequently for us,” he mentioned.

John Rebecca Park was established after locals complained in regards to the violence at Membership 77, which included a deadly capturing, sexual assaults and bodily fights within the membership.

A Hamilton man who lives within the encampment and recognized himself to CBC Hamilton as Jay mentioned he stays within the park as a result of it is throughout the road from Wesley City Ministries, which provide individuals primary requirements and medical providers. 

Questions about safety digicam’s effectiveness 

Farr acquired criticism from candidates operating for Ward 2 metropolis councillor.

Candidate Cameron Kroetsch mentioned putting in cameras is not going to unravel the issue. 

“Surveillance cameras are simply one other technique of criminalizing our homeless neighbours,” he mentioned, and added that the cameras are an try by Farr, who’s president of CityHousing Hamilton board, to distract from addressing the basis causes of homelessness. 

Kroetsch mentioned the true resolution is to offer reasonably priced housing and ample psychological well being assist. 

Fellow Ward 2 candidate Raquel Rakovac mentioned she has questions on who will watch the cameras as soon as they’re put in, and whether or not it’ll result in over policing.

“Persevering with to criminalize these in poverty will solely proceed to divide our neighborhood,” Rakovac mentioned, and added that Hamilton metropolis council ought to have a look at Kitchener’s ‘A Higher Tent Metropolis’ program, which supplies tiny houses for residents experiencing homelessness. 

Claire Bodkin, a household physician who has labored immediately with a few of the residents in John Rebecca Park, echoed considerations from Kroetsch and Rakovac.

“Our efforts and tax {dollars} needs to be going towards actual security and actual neighborhood, not additional harassment of these already focused by malicious bylaws,” she mentioned. 

“Each single day I work with sufferers who need to have a secure, accessible, reasonably priced place to stay and who should not provided this by town.”

Tim O’Shea, one other Hamilton doctor who cares for sufferers experiencing homelessness, mentioned it is vital to incorporate encampment residents in conversations about security.

“I may see either side of that, as a result of I do know individuals dwelling in encampments … have considerations about their very own security, so I do not know if they might really feel protected by an intervention like that,” O’Shea mentioned.

“The problem is that there is not secure, steady, reasonably priced locations for individuals in encampments to stay.”

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