Dozens of tents pitched along the waterfront to bring awareness about homelessness in Barrie

More than 150 tents lined Lakeshore Drive

A tent city popped up along Lakeshore Drive in Barrie overnight.

Motorists travelling between Tiffin and Victoria Streets on Wednesday morning could not help but see more than 150 grey tents pitched along the grass to represent the growing number of people who are homeless in the community, but who are also living unsheltered.

Staff from The Busby Centre and the Elizabeth Fry Society took part in the awareness protest about homelessness in Barrie

Staff from The Busby Centre and the Elizabeth Fry Society Simcoe Muskoka stood on boulevards with signs such as “Housing is a Human Right” and “Honk for Housing.” Using the hashtag #roofsNOTtentsBarrie, both organizations want the issues of homelessness and affordable housing to be front and centre on the campaign trails, both at the provincial and municipal level.

The 2002 Homelessness Enumeration Preliminary Report revealed that 50 per cent of the 722 people surveyed that were experiencing homelessness were residing in Barrie. The report found 70 per cent of those surveyed were experiencing chronic homelessness, defined as being homeless at least six of the last 12 months and/or at least two episodes of homelessness totalling 1.5 of the last three years.

The Busby Centre and the Elizabeth Fry Society announced on Tuesday that both shelters are preparing to transition from the emergency motel model at the Travelodge on Bayfield Street. The agencies are providing emergency shelter to approximately 200 individuals each night.

In the coming days/weeks, they will be under a period of planning and assessment, in collaboration with the County of Simcoe, City of Barrie, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and community service organizations, to determine safe transition to home locations and possible undetermined secondary congregate locations that will accommodate overflow emergency shelter beds.

The maximum available bed space is 17 at Elizabeth Fry and 25 at The Busby Centre with current infection, prevention and control measures in place. The agencies said this leaves over 150 individuals (not including new intakes or those already experiencing unsheltered homelessness) without safe access to shelter if an alternate solution is not presented by June 30th.

Banner image: More than 150 tents were placed along Lakeshore Drive in Barrie to raise awareness about homelessness in the community