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.

This item reprinted with permission from   The Peterborough Examiner   Peterborough, Ontario

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