Original Published on Oct 19, 2022 at 17:24
Peterborough County offers help to city on homelessness – no response so far
By Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones, and the county’s chief administrative office, Sheridan Graham, have reached out to the City of Peterborough to offer assistance after the city’s mayor, Diane Therrien, declared a homelessness state of emergency Friday, but the county has not yet received a response.
“The warden did reach out directly to the mayor to offer the county’s willingness to assist with its emergency control group, if they were meeting in that regard,” said Graham, who gave an update at council’s Wednesday meeting.
“But we haven’t had a response to that email.”
Graham said she sent a similar email from herself to the city’s chief administrative officer, Sandra Clancy, “in terms of offering our assistance and willingness to meet to discuss strategies and at this point we haven’t had a response.”
County council had asked the city, along with the federal and provincial government, in early August to declare a local homelessness state of emergency to get the ball rolling on federal and provincial funding to address local issues including health care, housing and addiction.
She reported that the county and city hosted a meeting on homelessness, titled From Crisis to Community, on Sept. 29 with attendees from both municipalities as well as more than 50 community groups, and local MPPs and MPs.
“I do understand that at the city council meeting (a special emergency meeting to discuss the topic held last Thursday) the CAO did mention that the city staff are working on alternatives, but we are not yet privy to what those are,” Graham continued.
Douro-Dummer Township Deputy Mayor Karl Moher said he was “discouraged” after watching the virtual emergency meeting.
“Coming away from that meeting, I was very discouraged with the quality of the questions that were being asked. There’s a total misunderstanding of this whole issue,” Moher said.
“Hopefully, some of these days, there will be mental health and addiction 101 training completed so that we have a better understanding.”
Graham said she is “staying on top of it” and “we are reinforcing that the county is willing to do whatever we can in our role as a provider of homelessness funding to the city that we are there to assist and we’ll discuss any options.”
Jones said he has personally reached out to the mayor to offer any support or assistance the county possibly can.
Therrien’s declaration was symbolic, since it will not mean additional money from the provincial or federal governments, nor allow the city to spend its own money to combat homelessness since city council is in a lame duck status until the new city council is sworn in after Monday’s election.