Skip to content

Homeless encampment beside Hanlon Expressway cleared out

Police and a clean-up crew were on the side of the Hanlon Expressway clearing out a longstanding homeless encampment

A homeless encampment on the side of the Hanlon Expressway is being cleared out.

Provincial police and a clean-up crew were on scene Tuesday morning cleaning up trash and debris found in the grassy area between Speedvale Avenue West and Willow Road.

It didn't come by surprise to the lone man at the camp at the time.

The 41-year-old, who didn't want to be identified, said officials gave residents three days notice.

"I knew they were coming," he said.

The clear out began around 9 a.m., and were still on scene as of Tuesday afternoon. It's not known how long the effort will take.

Encampment clear-outs have been a big topic of discussion. 

In Toronto, a new report released by the city ombudsman late last week said the city caused unnecessary harm and showed a lack of respect for those living in encampments in parks. 

The report added the city chose expediency and enforcement over the needs of those living in the encampments when they were cleared out in the summer of 2021.

Here in Guelph? It looks to be a different story.

"They were good," the man said of the police. "I didn't even notice them here, honestly. They were really good."

The main structure, made of wood and tarp, was put up a year ago, including a roof. The 41-year-old said he had been in this spot, on and off, for about five years.

"It was good enough that you stayed dry … other than the odd drip from the roof," he said of the structure.

"I never stayed for a winter, and I'll never stay for another one." 

It's seen its share of activity. From chimney fires, to people moving in and out of the location. He said about four or five people have been filtering in and out as of late.

A stove was taken from the site at the beginning of the month. When that happened, the man indicated he saw the writing on the wall.

Now, as he said, it's on to the next location. Where that is remains to be seen.

A representative from Stepping Stone, who routinely swings by to check on the residents, was on site Tuesday to support those in need.

"Stepping Stone staff are present as a support to individuals in order to access shelter/housing options, along with any other support needs that are requested by the individual (or individuals) living in encampments," said executive director Gail Hoekstra via text later in the day. "Stepping Stone staff visit encampment sites across the city regularly to continue this support."

Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Mark is a graduate of Canadore College in North Bay in 2011, and his decade-long career has taken him to a number of spots across Ontario in radio, digital and television broadcasting.
Read more