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Richmond Hill City Council approves urban camping ordinance
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The Richmond Hill City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday night to approve an ordinance outlawing what it terms “urban camping” and an accompanying policy regarding homelessness.

The ordinance makes it illegal to camp, store personal property, bathe or wash clothes in any park or on any other city property. The ordinance outlines penalties for violations, beginning with a warning from police and escalating to arrest for subsequent violations. Personal property may be deemed abandoned and confiscated without any warnings.

The ordinance was changed slightly from its first reading two weeks ago and gives City Council the ability to grant permission for “limited, lawful exceptions.”

City Manager Chris Lovell said this was done in case, for example, a Boy Scout troop sought to hold a weekend campout in a city park.

Such applications must be filed at least 60 days in advance. Applications will be considered based on several criteria, including the nature, location and extent of the activity proposed; impact on the property; and the burden or benefit of the activity to taxpayers and the general public.

The city also has appointed a police officer to advise, counsel and relocate homeless persons found on city property to an appropriate agency so they can find shelter and other services.

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