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City, police preparing to evict residents of Soper Park encampment

'I wish we just had a space that we could go that we didn't have to worry where we were going to end up next,' said a park resident facing eviction
Residents living in tents in Soper Park face eviction by the City of Cambridge.

The City of Cambridge has given a Wednesday deadline for residents of an encampment in Soper Park after issuing an eviction notice earlier this month. 

Now the unhoused residents who moved their tents to Soper Park following the closure of the encampment at 150 Main St. last month wonder where they are going to go.

"We can't go into the shelter man. Like, haven't they learned that it's not an option for us," said a resident of the camp who goes by Peter. "Like, if we didn't go to a shelter after leaving 150 Main, we're not going to go now." 

Peter and some of the others living by the Elgin Street train tunnel at the north end of the park feel like they are in a revolving cycle of finding a new space that works for a while before they are kicked out.

Eviction notice posted to Soper Park residents posted on 'X' . Marjorie Knight/ X

Sarah Riley, a primary care outreach worker for Sanguen, has been parking the health centre's outreach van in the lot at the nearby Cambridge Vineyard Church to meet with camp residents once a week. 

"It's hard, because they closed 150 Main and then it makes it harder for these individuals to come and find us to access our services," Riley said. "I think most of them living at Soper will tell you that they don't know where they are going to go, but they will probably just be kicked out in a few weeks anyways." 

Riley said when the camp was at 150 Main, it was easier for Sanguen staff to go there on a daily basis and offer support to residents as a whole as opposed to driving to different spots in the city looking for smaller camps.  

A camp set up on the path by near Soper Park. Joe McGinty/CambridgeToday

The city claims to have been in contact with the residents, new and old, since early August and have been working to find them alternative shelter options. 

Since the encampment  is near the CP rail line and Elgin Street tunnel, Canadian Pacific Kansas City Rail is working with the city to remove campers from the park.

"In collaboration with the Region of Waterloo, Canadian Pacific Kansas City Rail and WRPS, the City of Cambridge has been in regular contact with the people living at Soper Park," said Allison Jones, acting director of communications for the city in an email to CambridgeToday. 

"The priority has been to connect them with safer, sustainable, and healthier housing alternatives, and ensure they were aware that remaining on the site is prohibited under the parks bylaw." 

In a social media post by Regan Busse, an advocate for the unhoused, asked what housing options have been presented to the residents? 


The man CambridgeToday spoke with said the city has directed them to the region and provided information about shelter beds in Cambridge, both options that were not suitable when they left 150 Main St. and are not viable now. 

"I feel like they are just ticking some box, so they can say, yeah, we offered them housing; now leave," he added. 

The city has given the Soper Park encampment until Wednesday to vacate the property, or face legal action from police. 

"Failure to comply with direction issued pursuant to the Trespass to Property Act may result in charges being laid against you," reads the city's eviction notice.

"This will further confirm the authority of the Waterloo Regional Police Service to act as agent for The Corporation of the City of Cambridge to give effect to such notice of trespass."

"It sucks man, I wish we just had a space that we could go that we didn't have to worry where we were going to end up next," Peter said. 

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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