Clarifying staff research into safe distribution of food in City parks

Community communication

It has come to our attention that there is a misunderstanding in some parts of our community about research City staff is doing to allow for the safe distribution of food in City parks. Unfortunately, this work has been misunderstood as an attempt to ban city park-based meal services for people who are homeless.

City staff have no intention of banning food distribution in City parks. 

City staff are exploring ways to balance this compassionate act with a safe environment. The challenge: Food and trash being left in parks is creating an unsafe environment. The City is experiencing some tension between food distribution in the parks which in some cases leaves behind a great deal of trash, and impacts park users and the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.  One option City staff is exploring is an ordinance that would establish a permit system for feeding large groups of people. Permits would be given freely and would help to ensure that health and safety standards are met, as well as maintaining the parks free from litter.  This idea is in the exploratory stage and has not been presented to Council for policy consideration. 

Before any action could take place, the policy would be placed on a City Council agenda and discussed in the open forum of a City Council meeting. This item is not scheduled to be discussed on tomorrow’s City Council agenda.

We are grateful for the service many partners in ending homelessness provide through distributing food to unsheltered people in our community. Our goal is to find solutions that provide for the safety of people experiencing homelessness, the general public and staff.