A tragic child’s death, a sanctioned encampment site and multiple fires: Top stories of the week

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Waterloo region family mourns nine-year-old who died on camping trip

A family that recently moved from Waterloo Region is remembering the life of their nine-year-old boy after the search for him came to a tragic end.

Everett Freeman is being remembered as a beautiful soul with a shy and sweet demeanour as well as a certain kind of silliness he only shared with a lucky few.

Everett Freeman, from Sequin Township was camping with his family on in Totem Pole Bay on Huckleberry Island on the waters of Georgian Bay. (Provided)

“Everett was such an amazing kid,” said Korey Freeman, Everett’s dad. “He was one in a million.”

Korey says their family of five are from Waterloo Region and moved to Seguin Township in Parry Sound about a month ago. Part of the reasoning for the move was to give their kids a chance to explore the outdoors.

Region approves first-ever sanctioned encampment site

The Region of Waterloo council approved a series of measures on Thursday to help ease the growing homelessness crisis, including a first-ever decision to permit an encampment.

“The interim and short-term housing options that are hopefully approved today are explicitly interim because we know they are not the solution to homelessness,” said Region of Waterloo councillor Elizabeth Clarke ahead of the vote. “Someone staying in a shelter is still homeless. Someone staying in encampment is still homeless.”

The encampment at Victoria and Weber Streets in Kitchener. (Aug. 19, 2022)

The updated homelessness response plan was presented at a Community Services Committee Meeting earlier this month, and was unanimously approved by council during a virtual meeting on Thursday.

It has four major components: expanding the transitional housing program, expanding home-based supports to help people find and pay for affordable housing, creating an additional emergency shelter space and permitting an encampment.

University students displaced by fire in Waterloo

A fire on Albert Street in Waterloo left several university students displaced. (Colton Wiens/CTV Kitchener) (Aug, 14, 2022)

Multiple students have been displaced following a Sunday morning fire in Waterloo.

According to Waterloo Fire and Emergency Services, emergency crews were called to the scene around 8:45 a.m. on Albert Street Sunday.

When they arrived, they could see a fire outside a building that was starting to spread through the upper levels of a home, while flames were also jumping to an adjacent home.

In an email statement, police say the fire is believed to have started outside a residence and moved towards the structure. No one was injured.

Officials said the fire started at a property being rented by University of Waterloo students, while the other is rented by Wilfrid Laurier University students.

“There is likely to be a total of 12 students displaced,” said Richard Hepditch, fire chief for the City of Waterloo. “We’ve also worked very quickly and liaised with the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University who have special constables on scene that will help them with accommodations.”

Fire crews advise caution after more than 100 animals were killed in two separate barn fires

Crews battle a fire at a barn on Aug. 15. (Karen Vollmer/Submitted)

Rural fire crews were busy this week after two separate barn fires north of Kitchener were responsible for the deaths of over 100 livestock. Between the two fires, 116 cattle and four horses were killed, according to fire officials.

On Saturday, a dairy barn fire near Alma was responsible for the death of 67 cattle. On Monday, a barn fire in the Township of Mapleton killed 49 cows and four horses.

The barns are a total loss, and fire officials are pleading with farmers to use extra caution to avoid similar calls in the future.

Township of Mapleton Fire Chief Rick Richardson said local fire stations installed water sources in the area of one of the fires over the past few years.

He said this has helped tackle rural fires quicker.

Multiple fire departments attended the barn fire on Aug. 15. (Karen Vollmer/Submitted)

Officials say barn fires are a huge strain on people as they require more resources than most.

“So you need lots of people, in the beginning, to try and get it under control to save exposures or possibly even extinguish the fire in the barn as it is. We’ve done that a couple of times,” said Dennis Aldous, Fire Chief for the Township of Woolwich Fire Department

‘It’s never been enough’: ODSP recipients struggle to make ends meet

The 63-year-old Waterloo region resident Joyce Nieuwesteeg has spina bifida and depends on ODSP. (Carmen Wong/CTV News Kitchener)

Joyce Nieuwesteeg receives $925 each month to live on.

The 63-year-old Waterloo region resident has spina bifida and depends on the monthly payments from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to live.

“It’s never enough.” said Nieuwesteeg. “It’s never been enough.”

While her home in Waterloo is subsidized, she says she still needs to stretch every dollar so she can afford the bare necessities, like food.

“Once that’s paid for, [there is] nothing really left. If I can’t do it, I do without, period,” said Nieuwesteeg.

Earlier this week, the Ontario government announced it is following through with an earlier promise to bolster the support people receive through ODSP.

For those living on ODSP, it means they will receive an extra $58.45 per month.

“In a way, it does feel like a bit of a punishment,” said Nieuwesteeg. “I can’t help the fact that I was born with a disability.”

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