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Orillia explores support measures for homeless encampments

Orillia councillors are exploring ways to support people living in encampments across the city, including possibly installing portable toilets and providing regular garbage collection at the sites.

There are believed to be four encampments in the city.

The motion was brought forward by city councillors Janet-Lynne Durnford and Jay Fallis at a recent meeting and was passed with a five to four vote.

"We want to do this because it is a matter of human rights and human dignity, and it also provides safety for the neighbours who live around the encampment sites and for the people who are unhoused," said Durnford, Ward 4.

Mitchell Creighton set up a makeshift encampment for some of the city's homeless on the former OPP property on Peter Street.

"I figured instead of struggling on my own, it would be a little easier if, you know, we kind of came together as a little community and figured out a game plan," Creighton said.

Roughly 10 people without a place to call home sleep at the encampment each night.

Dunford said city staff had been asked to prepare a report on the feasibility of offering the services.

She acknowledges it's a Band-Aid solution to a much bigger issue of affordable housing but notes it's a necessary small step in the meantime.

"This is one other piece of some immediate relief to the challenges of being unhoused, and we recognize that the need for longer-term planning," she said.

The city has a warming centre in the winter and The Lighthouse, but the 58 beds at the shelter are at capacity most nights.

Trish Holloway with The Lighthouse shelter said they support any initiatives to assist the encampments and individuals experiencing homelessness.

"Any washroom facilities or any regular garbage pick up and support is a great idea," she added.

The report with the cost of the proposed program is expected to be presented to council in the coming weeks. Top Stories

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