Nearly 24-hours after a shooting Northumberland – Peterborough South MPP David Piccini spoke to the residents at the homeless encampment in Cobourg.
On Wednesday, August 16, 2023, a shot was fired at a homeless encampment at the bottom of Hibernia Street in Cobourg along the west side of the west pier along the Lake Ontario shoreline.
No one was injured in the shooting that is believed to be drug related and Cobourg Police are investigating.
At the time of the shooting there were approximately 15-people at the encampment.
Speaking before he walked through the encampment, Piccini said, “we have to have a safe community.”
“First and foremost the priority of our government is safe communities. So it’s deeply concerning to hear gunshots of any kind. It’s not something any of us stand for in this community.”
Piccini said his governments stance on encampments is that by-laws have to be enforced.
“We as a province have stepped up with significant funding for our social service providers. You need local solutions. Obviously I emphasise with this inflationary times – it’s tough.”
The priority of the government is to build 1.5 million homes.
“We want to ensure we are compassionate and here to support people.”
Piccini said Transition House is available, “and it’s important we direct the most vulnerable there.”
Sometimes people don’t want the support, “but it is critical that we have wrap around supports for people when you need them.”
Piccini toured the encampment shortly before 4 p.m. a day after the shooting and spoke to one of the residents.
Chris said he and his girlfriend lived on Division Street but were displaced after municipal services conducted an inspection of the dwelling and found raw sewage in the basement on July 28, 2023.
All the residents in the dwelling were told to leave and have been looking for housing since.
Speaking to Piccini, Chris said the Red Cross put them up in a hotel for three days, CMHA put them into another hotel for three days, then they’ve been homeless since.
Chris said, he is the leader of the encampment.
When he and his girlfriend lived at the Division Street residence, most of the people would come to the apartment for support and food.
“Everybody here is capable of paying rent, they just need a place to rent,” Chris said to Piccini relating to the housing crisis.
“Everybody that’s here, at one point or another came to my house for shelter, food, clothing, laundry, showers so this is the amount of people we had through one house.”
Chris told Piccini at this point the people at the encampment are waiting for housing to open up.
After walking through the encampment, Piccini said, “It’s sad that we have this in our community and people feeling they’ve got no where to go.”
“But we’ve got to enforce by-laws in our communities and we have a shelter, Transition House, and my understanding there are beds available and wrap around supports.”
“And I know people don’t always want help all the time and you have to be there for when they do and we’ve got a shelter and the province is supporting it.”
Even when the Charter of Rights and the Waterloo decision stating that if there are no accessible places to live, people can live in encampments, Piccini reiterates, “I maintain my position that you have to enforce by-laws.”
“We have by-laws and laws for a reason.”
Stating the people need to use Transition House, but said he commends people like Chris who are trying to help people.
“But definitely we have a good Social Services Department that the province works with here in the County. A lot of good staff trying to make a difference.”
Piccini stated the province increased homelessness funding by 50% this year, “and those dollars have to get to the grassroots level to support people.”