Northumberland County Council – Cobourg Encampment Delegation Gets Supportive Response

In City Hall, Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Cobourg council representatives got a supportive response to their presentation to Northumberland County council’s June meeting on the impacts their town has sustained as a result of the Brookside encampment.

“I know the CAOs are coming to an agreement (on the prospective shelter at 310 Division St.),” said Councillor Randy Barber – who made the presentation with Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty (with councillors Miriam Mutton and Brian Darling in the gallery).

“But we have some extra information we thought we would like to bring to you to show some of the effects the encampment has brought.”

Between last September and this June, Barber said, the town’s fire department and municipal law enforcement have spent $81,000 on work required by the homelessness encampment at the provincially owned former youth corrections facility.

And this does not take into account increased police-department call volumes associated with the encampment or related requests to town hall, he added.

“We experience numerous calls from neighbours regarding human excrement and used needles and all sorts of trash being tossed into the creek and accumulating downstream from the encampment which, of course, is in neighbourhoods,” Barber said, speaking of the danger to the residents (and their children and pets).

“These are the kinds of things we are experiencing, day in and day out.”

The four requests they are making, Beatty said, are with an eye to enhanced collaboration.

First, they want the county to join them in requesting support from the province in receiving some funding to offset the costs that result from the encampment.

Second, they want the county to join them in a delegation at the August Association of Ontario Municipalities conference on the broader impacts of social-service delivery in a lower-tier municipality.

Third, they want the county to make annual presentations on the delivery of social services in the Town of Cobourg, including information on support allocated to homelessness and a commitment to early engagement on the impact of social-service initiatives.

Fourth, they want a Cobourg representative on the Homelessness Co-ordinated Response Team.

Asked about time lines they hope for, the answer was immediately, especially given that both town and county will be looking at their 2024 budgets soon.

“In 2025, we are already looking at a half-million dollars for our own municipal levy,” Beatty said.

While unanimous support was expressed for their first three requests, Northumberland Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Moore said that any support cannot come at the cost of impacts on funding for other services provided by the county.

Moore also hopes the town will reciprocate by supporting the county in such endeavours as lobbying on ODSP rates that have been frozen for so many years that recipients can no longer hope to afford food, shelter and other needs without extreme difficulty.

As for the fourth, she continued, the task force is a body of front-line service-delivery providers, and there are strict protocols within which the request cannot be accommodated. She did allow, however, that some form of allowing town representation can be devised, such as (possibly) a subcommittee of the CAOs’ working group.

Despite all the amity, Cobourg Mayor Lucas Cleveland took exception to remarks that the Brookside encampment is not the only one in the county. True enough, Cleveland said, but the Brookside encampment is the only one with 60 people and the one that is causing the most disruption and expense.

“We are sometimes, I would say, being perceived as out of touch at this level of government when we say these things,” he said.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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