With increased homelessness in Waterloo region and across Canada, there are more encampments in public places within the city. Find information about homelessness and our approach below.

On this page:

  1. Homelessness
  2. Responsibility
  3. Victoria Park
  4. Questions or concerns

Homelessness

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Waterloo Region has grown significantly over the past few years. The Region of Waterloo estimates that around 1,000 people are currently experiencing homelessness across the region, including around 450 people experiencing chronic homelessness.

Homelessness is a complex issue that is impacted by many factors, including housing affordability, mental health and trauma, job loss, poverty, synthetic drugs and the opioid crisis.


Responsibility

As Service Manager for Housing and Homelessness, the Region of Waterloo plays a leadership role, bringing together partners from various systems to work on this complex issue. In August 2022, the Region released recommendations for interim housing solutions to help address increased homelessness across Waterloo Region. We’re working with the Region and other local municipalities to address homelessness in our cities.

This includes supporting affordable housing through the City’s Housing for All strategy, providing land for non-traditional housing like A Better Tent City and providing land for affordable supportive housing in partnership with the YW.

Addressing homelessness requires an all-of-community approach that includes community partners, local municipalities, the region, and provincial and federal partners – and the City of Kitchener is committed to continuing to play our part in finding solutions.


Victoria Park

Increased homelessness has led to highly visible encampments in public places, including Victoria Park. We’re working with the Region and system partners to address the challenges of this encampment.

Outreach workers and staff continue to help Roos Island occupants access services and support. In August 2022, a service fair supported by the Region of Waterloo was held to help campers access housing, Ontario Works and service providers.

By-law and other City staff visit the Victoria Park encampment daily to ensure the site is kept clean and disruption to other park users is minimized. We have also hired a contractor to remove garbage from the island daily. City trailbike by-law officers include Victoria Park in their daily patrols. In addition, a ‘DTK Street Team’ offers non-police peer support and outreach services in the downtown core seven days a week. It’s important to note that by-law officers don’t have the authority to arrest, detain or physically move people.

Although those camping in Victoria Park may be in violation of some bylaws, we’re taking a more holistic and compassionate approach to  addressing this situation. We continue to balance enforcement of the parks bylaw with a human-centred approach that considers both the needs and safety of unhoused individuals, as well as the needs and concerns of other park users. We know encampments are not a long-term solution to the housing crisis and we will continue to play our part in finding solutions.


Questions or concerns

If you have encampment-related concerns, please:

  • call the Region of Waterloo at 519-575-4400: homelessness and housing questions
  • call us at 519-741-2345 or report a problem online: garbage, nuisance concerns, unsafe conditions
  • call Waterloo Regional Police Service at 519-570-9777 or report online: non-emergency criminal activity (example: theft)
  • call 911: emergencies only