Emergency Cobourg Council Meeting on Friday to Discuss Homeless Encampment

In City Hall, Editor Choice, Local

A Emergency Special Council Meeting has been called as a result of a number of homeless encampments in Cobourg,

A press released was issued regarding the meeting which is being held on Friday, August 11, 2023 at 1 p.m.

“In accordance with Section 239 (2) (a) (c) of the Municipal Act, 2001, Council will meet in Closed Session regarding Section 239 (2) (f), advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose and 239 (2) (a) the security of the property of the municipality or local board.”

The council meeting will be in closed session.

Members of the Public viewing the meeting via the Town of Cobourg eScribe portal will see a Closed Session Screen on the Live-Stream indicating Council is in a Closed Session.

Today’s Northumberland met with Cobourg Mayor Lucas Cleveland just prior to the media release being issued and asked about numerous encampments around Cobourg.

Cleveland said there have been “multiple resident complaints,” municipal by-law enforcement attended the encampment on the west side of the west pier.

“Based on their assessment of the site, officers found that the encampment was in direct violation with the current parks by-law, the nuisance by-law and the trespass to property act.”

Individuals there at the time were given a Notice to Vacate by August 9, 2023 by 2 p.m.

“As per the Town of Cobourg revised encampment response plan, approved by council in July 2022, the municipal by-law enforcement staff continulously work closely with the individuals residing at the encampment, connecting them with community based supports providing the County of Northumberland and other local agencies providing support to individuals.”

At this time, Cobourg has sought the legal opinion of the town solicitor along with the emergency meeting so they can discuss the situation.

“First we have to acknowledge, this is not a fun topic for anyone to discuss. Seeing people in our community sleeping rough is an unfortunate reality in our current day and age.”

“Nobody wants to see individuals with no where else to go and no services being provided living in tents.”

Cleveland acknowledged that homelessness is happening across Canada and many parts of the world.

“We’ve been dealing with encampments for years in this community and we are going to continue.”

Cleveland said when town staff removed the one encampment from the east end of Victoria Park and not the other, were following the procedures that were required.

Regarding the encampment along the west side of the west pier, “there have been several developments with that,” and that’s why Cleveland called the emergency council session.

“Council needs to have a fulsome discussion.”

Cleveland said he has his own views and opinions which he will bring to the meeting, but, “at the end of the day, the decision of Council will be final and all members of Council will be bound to support that decision.”

Calling it a “sad” and “difficult” situation, Cleveland said he understands the communities concerns.

Cleveland said he hopes this may be the opportunity, for this council, for this county, for this province, for this country to start understanding we can’t keep pointing the fingers at one another – we can’t keep passing the buck.”

“The reality is that Cobourg Council doesn’t have access to social welfare dollars, to social service deployment.”

Cleveland said it isn’t Northumberland County’s fault, but, “we have to come together as a community, as a county, as a province and as a country and address the current way of doing things isn’t working.”

“The current system of helping vulnerable individuals isn’t working. The current policies aren’t working.”

“This is not a pleasant situation for the community or for the individuals living rough.”

“There is no one winning.”

Cleveland said it’s time to look for partners and working as a team to do what’s best for members of our community.

Numerous sources have said that individuals at the encampment may have legal representation, but Cleveland couldn’t confirm.

Kate Campbell, Director of Communications for Northumberland County said, “there are four beds at Transition House that have been reserved for any residents displaced through the recent evacuation who are in need of emergency shelter, and these are currently available.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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