Homeless Tent Encampment Protocol – Information for Ward 8 Residents

This post, from August 23, has information for Ward 8 residents about the homeless tent Encampment Protocol.

Hello Ward 8 Neighbours,

As many Ward 8 residents are likely aware, Hamilton City Council has voted 10-6 in support on a set of rules for homeless tent encampments within the City of Hamilton.

Many residents have reached out to share their concerns.

The following post includes information for Ward 8 residents about the “Encampment Protocol”, the homelessness crisis, solutions to homelessness, housing affordability and what happens if there is a homeless tent encampment in your neighbourhood.

For more details, please continue reading below…

A Message from Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko

I would like to personally thank all Ward 8 residents who have taken the time to share their concerns and suggestions about homelessness – I certainly understand the frustrations that have been shared.

Hundreds of Ward 8 residents participated at the in-person public consultation meeting in June, filled out the Ward 8 Homeless Tent Encampment Survey and have contacted the Ward 8 office directly.

Most Ward 8 residents share a strong compassion for homeless individuals and want solutions. Safety for both housed and unhoused was a top concern – and residents very clearly do not want tents in parks.

As your Ward 8 Councillor, I do not support tents in parks.

During the Encampment Protocol debate, I voted in favour of an amendment that would ban encampments in parks (unless the Ward Councillor opted in -which I would not) – unfortunately this direction was not supported by the majority of Council.

However, I was successful in introducing an amendment that drastically improves and clarifies timelines for enforcement and requires outreach workers to notify Municipal Law Enforcement of violations (previously there were instances where violations may not have been reported for enforcement).

While there are no easy solutions and many challenges ahead, I’d like to thank all Ward 8 residents for their patience and understanding as we face this crisis together.


John-Paul Danko, P. Eng.
Hamilton City Councillor, Ward 8

The Encampment Protocol

The homeless tent Encampment Protocol allows for up to five tents on all City property, including parks.

There are some restrictions: tents cannot be closer than 300ft from playgrounds, schools and daycares, 30ft from private property, 150ft from sports fields, there cannot be more than five tents in a group and groupings of tents must be 150ft apart from each other.

Health and safety issues such as drug use, violence, aggressive or intimidating behavior etc. will be referred to police within 72 hours (with a response sooner for more serious issues).

The approved Protocol also includes funding for additional on the ground outreach supports, trash collection and clean-up, by-law enforcement and two dedicated Hamilton Police encampment liaison officers.

Council also approved 25 tiny shelters at Strachan Linear Park (along Strachan Street East between James and Hughson streets north with the support of the Ward 2 Councillor) as part of the Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS)

You can view the entire Encampment Protocol here.

The cost of the new encampment protocol — which includes implementation and staffing — is estimated to be $2.9 million in 2024 and $255,000 in capital costs.

The Homelessness Crisis

In the past three years, the number of homeless individuals in Hamilton has increased by 70%.

Shelters, foodbanks and other supports that were already strained three years ago are now completely overwhelmed. Combined with a crisis of housing affordability and a lack of provincial mental health and addictions supports, municipalities across Canada are struggling to deal with homelessness and encampments.

At the same time, courts across Canada have identified housing as a human right and have struck down by-laws that ban encampments on City property.

Encampment supporters are currently in active litigation against the City – it is highly likely that if we did not implement our own encampment protocol, one far more lenient could be imposed on us by the Superior Court.

The City of Hamilton cannot solve homelessness – but we can manage the impacts as best we can.

With or without the Encampment Protocol, there will be people living in tents in parks.

While far from ideal, the Encampment Protocol allows the City some degree of management of this crisis with specific rules and expectations and clear steps to enforcement.

Here are links to two radio interviews Councillor Danko has done on this subject which provides a more in-depth evaluation:

Ward 8 Councillor Danko Encampment Interview AM900 CHML

Ward 8 Councillor Danko Encampment Interview AM640

Solutions to Homelessness

Ultimately, the only solution to homelessness is homes.

From 2018 to 2026, the City of Hamilton along with our Federal and Provincial partners will invest nearly $1 BILLION dollars in housing and homelessness supports:

Municipal $508.4M
Federal $220.8M
Provincial $226.8M

While we appreciate our Federal & Provincial partners, Hamilton is outspending them two to one.

In the 2023 budget, the City of Hamilton has more than $75.6 million dollars allocated to housing and homelessness supports. This is a 55% increase in just five years.

Despite the $75.6 million dollars already in the 2023 budget, staff are recommending $7.9 million more for emergency response measures this year, plus $8.7 million for additional emergency response next year and another $31 million more for supportive housing to 2026.

Just over $100 million dollars of City funding in one year makes housing & homelessness spending roughly 10% of your annual property tax bill!

This is not sustainable and not fair to Hamilton taxpayers – we need far more support from both the Provincial and Federal governments.

One of the biggest contributors to homelessness is addictions and mental health. These are healthcare issues and firmly a Provincial responsibility.

However, the funding we receive from the Provincial government does not come anywhere close to addressing the crisis in our communities. While the Province continues to download the cost of homelessness onto municipalities, the Ford government is sitting on $22.6 billion dollars in unallocated surplus funds.

Similarly, refugees and asylum seekers are occupying about 20% of Hamilton’s emergency shelter beds, yet a request for $9 million in funding to cover this pressure was denied by the Federal government.

We also have badly needed affordable housing projects that have already been approved and are ready to build (including a major project in Ward 8) except funding promised by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been unexpectedly cut, killing the financial viability of these projects.

Housing Affordability

Housing affordability is a complex issue, far beyond any municipality.

It is easy for some to blame cities as “gatekeepers” and complain that cities are not building enough homes.

However, the reality is that Hamilton already has lands designated and in many cases approved to accommodate approximately 37,000 units of new development, which is roughly 10.5 years of housing supply, not including abundant opportunities for infill and intensification.

In fact 2022 was a record year and just last week, Planning Committee approved 1658 new residential housing units – for reference, that is 47% of Hamilton’s provincially mandated annual growth projection (35,600 new housing units by 2031) – in one single meeting.

Encampments in Ward 8

Ward 8 residents have been crystal clear (click here to see Ward 8 survey results) – public parks are not a suitable location for homeless tent encampments and safety is a top concern for both unhoused and housed people.

Fortunately, the tent location restrictions included in the Encampment Protocol prohibit tents in most areas of most Ward 8 parks.

However, there are areas of some larger parks, or parks without playgrounds where tent encampments may be permitted – and we expect to continue to see encampments that are in volition of the Protocol.

Individuals in the community who encounter an active or abandoned encampment, temporary shelter, or tent, or someone who is living unsheltered, and/or have questions or concerns about an encampment, should contact the Coordinated Response Team led by Housing Focused Street Outreach by email at unsheltered@hamilton.ca or by phone at 905-546-2828.

Any contacts made with other internal City divisions or through other City channels (such as the Ward 8 office) regarding encampments, temporary shelters, or tents will also be forwarded to Housing Focused Street Outreach for first response.

If residents observe health and safety concerns or illegal activity such as drug use, theft and vandalism, aggressive or threatening behavior, used needles, vicious or mistreated dogs etc. residents should continue reporting these activities to police here: https://hamiltonpolice.on.ca/report-crime/non-emergencies (Please call 911 for emergencies). You may not see immediate action on the ground, but it is very important that residents continue to officially file complaints with police.

Questions or concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact our office here.

Councillor John-Paul Danko