Cañon City Mayor Ashley Smith, who serves on the Fremont County Homeless Coalition and the Built for Zero initiative to end reoccurring and chronic homelessness, met with about 10 individuals who are experiencing homeless Tuesday in Veterans Park. She allowed them to speak freely and share their concerns, as well as potential solutions to problems.
“This is a city park, but it’s also our home,” one of the men said.
The No. 1 problem the park residents are facing is the closure of the public restrooms because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rex Brady, the director of parks and facilities for the City of Cañon City, said in order to open the facilities, they would have to be cleaned and sanitized every hour.
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Park resident Natisha Gwardyak said she would clean the bathrooms every day for free, but because she’s not part of the city staff, liability issues prevent her from doing so. However, she has had someone drop off supplies, which allowed her to clean urine and feces from the bandshell at the park which is being used as a toilet with the facilities being locked down.
She said it is hard to be able to go out to look for a job when there’s no way to take a shower or clean up.