April 8, 2023
Letter to the Editor
The decision of the Cobourg council to shut down the Northumberland Sleeping Cabin Collective (NSCC) is nothing less than an obstructive bureaucracy! Municipalities have authority – and human rights obligations – (Municipal Act of 2001) to use the tools at their disposal to create more affordable housing. The NSCC plan is very affordable, with zero cost to the municipality and residents’ costs covered by the province.
Discriminatory opposition to affordable housing for groups protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code is a prime example of the “Not in My Backyard” (NIMBY) syndrome. The Code states that people do not have the right to choose their neighbours.
Ontario, and in particular Cobourg, is facing a homelessness crisis that is causing deep and devastating impacts. Solutions to homelessness and encampments must be grounded in human rights-based approaches and delivered with respect and compassion.
The Municipality should be finding ways to encourage us to care for one another – as we do with volunteer run thrift shops, food banks, emergency housing, the Northumberland Heros who stepped up with homemade masks and gowns during Covid, free NARCAN, safe injection sites (sanctioned or not); not excuses to discourage the efforts of this NSCC initiative.
Council’s denial/dismissal is just an excuse to hide their own inability to face a growing problem and abdicate responsibility to the County or the Province; even though neither level has been able to solve this challenge, yet NSCC is a start and should be given a chance. An engaged Council would help groups be successful, not pick apart weak points in a citizen group inexperienced in the planning process.
One Councillor, Miriam Mutton, is so against assisting the homeless, ignoring those economic inequality with shelter and dignity as to bury all future consideration by moving a definitive ‘NO’ option to shut down future discussion. The failure of any council member (except Burchat and Beatty) to give honest, constructive feedback to the NSCC, is both negligent and a self-serving abuse of power!
I believe that Cobourg is a community that cares for all its residents and would prefer a more constructive approach such as working together towards an alternate location or more specific licensing terms.
This is within the Municipality authority not requiring County or Provincial approval. Being humane does not require bureaucratic approval?
I respectfully request the Cobourg council further research its commitment to NSCC, reconsider its stand, and constructively work together to pilot the NSCC proposal.
Thank you for attention.