Editorial – Did Cobourg Council Take The Easy Way Out of Dealing with Encampment

In Editorial

Cobourg councils decision should be the catalyst to once and for all solving this problem that seems to be so complicated.

Everyone has a opinion on the matter of homelessness. The NIMBY theory is one that stands out loud and clear. Even for supporters of the individuals, the “not in my back yard” holds true.

Or it would appear so, as we’ve never heard or seen people with tents in their homes or backyards.

There are so many different angles to what is happening in Canada and other parts of the world.

The word “homeless” can have many, many different aspects to the word.

A person who has worked their entire life to support themselves or their family could find themselves homeless. A person who suffers from mental illness, drug addiction, not conforming to society, laziness, or just plan liking to live off the land.

Every person has a story. Never judge a group of people until you know their story.

Municipal by-law officers attended the west pier area long the Cobourg shoreline and found the encampment was in violation of a number of by-laws.

Mayor Lucas Cleveland called an emergency meeting for council.

One that no one will ever know about.

But why does that council meeting have to be secret?

This issue involves every person in this town and the encampment is on a public beach. So why have a closed session to being with. It will only cause more confusion, anger and speculation with residents.

The ruling by the Ontario Superior Court in Waterloo stated, “unless and until encampment residents are provided with truly accessible accommodation, eviction should not take place.”

But Today’s Northumberland checked with Northumberland County regarding Transition House where a number of homeless people are staying.

The County said there are four beds available. That certainly won’t solve the problem. In fact, to be realistic it would only be a small dent to fix the issue, but, it is still four beds that aren’t being used.

Given that, how can the town state there isn’t housing for homeless people.

Until all beds are used, we haven’t reached that pinnacle and shouldn’t have to be on the next step of allowing the encampment.

Just last week, a encampment at the east end of Victoria Park was removed – what was the deciding factor in the short number of days following for council’s decision.

Another problem that may arise, as minor as it may be. Now that tents are allowed on the beach does this mean, it’s a free-for-all on Victoria Beach where thousands of people descend on summer weekends? Along with that – what about camping? Can anyone camp anywhere now because Council seems to be under the impression that there is no place suitable.

Obviously it shows Cobourg Council doesn’t think Transition House is a suitable place given their decision. So why hasn’t this come forward previously? Has Council even been in Transition House to see how accessible it is or isn’t?

It’s a slippery slope that Cobourg Council has started on this journey without having all the facts before them.

The bottom line is if the limited resources available aren’t being utilized and until such time – why look further?

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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