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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Tent City In Owen Sound Is Gone

Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz  

Homeless residents began removing signs, sleeping bags and chairs Friday.

The homeless tent city erected along 2nd Avenue East in Owen Sound is no more.

A small group of former VLC occupants including outspoken homeless man and mayoral candidate Ray Botten began removing signs, tents, sleeping bags and chairs Friday that have littered the curb out front of the recently closed emergency shelter.

By Saturday morning, the area in front of the former shelter was completely cleared.

In response to a complaint, the city issued a compliance letter May 31 to the homeless outside the property at 748 2nd Avenue East, stating all items must be removed by June 7.

Botten says by-law enforcement and police officers arrived Friday morning to remove all the items. He says the homeless former VLC residents were handed a notice explaining their belongings would be held until July 7 and given a number to contact to retrieve them.

Botten says the homeless chose to comply and began packing up items to move, instead of having them taken by authorities.

Where exactly the displaced former VLC occupants will go next, Botten wouldn't say. He insists the fight to re-open the VLC shelter isn't over.

"We are resolute. We will not move from our mission," Botten explains. "And that is to have the (VLC) reinstated through fundraising."

Botten is taking aim at both Grey County and the City of Owen Sound for not doing enough to help the homeless.

"They have addressed the homeless issue by kicking us homeless off the street," he says. "They are responsible for our lives."

A statement from the city released today says emergency and long-term shelter is arranged through a partnership with the YMCA under contract with Grey County.

It goes on to say support staff have been in regular contact with individuals impacted throughout the last two weeks, connecting them with resources and temporary housing.

Grey County recently offered to work with VLC to meet standards for funding as housing with related supports service.

Randy Kennedy, who operated the former emergency shelter, said the organization would be interested in a funding agreement but called the offer irrelevant until VLC gets its building back.

A court-ordered eviction order was executed May 30 on the shelter due to a mortgage dispute.

The property is now listed for sale for $365,000.
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