By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Seven months after Cobourg council declined to pursue a six-month pilot project utilizing sleeping cabins as shelter, Port Hope council has done the same by a five-to-two vote at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The proposal in both cases came from the Northumberland Sleeping Cabin Collective, proposing a small number of cabins set up on municipal land. In Port Hope’s case, a list of potential sites had been prepared, and the vacated George Hamilton Public School between Welcome and Canton had been chosen.
The motion on the floor would have authorized staff to complete work required for such a project, including the negotiation of such concerns as health and safety issues. It was moved by Councillor Claire Holloway Wadhwani and seconded by Deputy Mayor Todd Attridge, both of whom cast the sole votes in favour – and both of whom delivered prepared remarks on the size and complexity of the challenge.
It’s too complex to leave up to government to solve, Holloway Wadhwani said, and this project comes to council from a reputable community agency offering to manage it (and funded privately by supporters).
Councillor Chris Collins said he had heard a lot of supportive remarks from members of the community, but it would be a mistake to think there would be no cost to the municipality.
“We have labour, we have time, we have liability,” Collins said.
“We have to make sure we have, for lack of a better term, our ducks in a row – because there is a liability. There is risk.”
Councillor Adam Pearson outlined the work he had done personally with homeless individuals and his familiarity with support systems that can currently be called on.
“Unfortunately, the sleeping cabin isn’t necessarily something that I think of as a great path forward,” Pearson commented.
“I think there’s better options, and I think we should use those options.”
Councillor Vicki Mink (who requested the recorded vote) clarified that the vote was not a rejection of sleeping cabins per se, but a rejection of such a project at the George Hamilton site.