Katarokwi Union of Tenants calls for resignation of BIA executive director amidst controversial letter

·2 min read

The Katarokwi Union of Tenants (KUT) is calling for the resignation of the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area's executive director after a letter circulated earlier this month.

Ivan Stoiljkovic, General Secretary of KUT, says the BIA's letter addressing homelessness downtown is consistent with the municipal government's approach.

Now he's calling for the resignation of the BIA's Executive Director in response.

"We call on the poor and homeless as well as on all people of goodwill to resist Mrs. Cuerrier’s social-cleansing agenda and to make Downtown Kingston’s Business Improvement Area’s genocidal project a difficult one," Stoiljkovic said on behalf of KUT.

"We demand public space for all, not just those who can pay. We demand the resignation of Marijo Cuerrier!"

The letter that has upset many was sent to downtown businesses on August 11 and was written by the BIA's new executive director, Marijo Cuerrier.

The letter received attention after it had been posted on an Instagram page that focuses on local issues, and resulted in backlash against Cuerrier and the BIA.

It addresses challenges with "street-involved individuals" and goes on to suggest that businesses ask individuals on the property to leave and call the police on those causing a disturbance as well discourage any form of panhandling with customers.

The article states that Kingston's homeless have more than enough resources and so customers don't need to help them.

"Kingston has a great food program and social service program in place, therefore there is no need to supply people with additional money, food, or drink." the letter says.

"Supporting them with spare change or food enables them to continue loitering and panhandling, rather than seeking appropriate support, and in some cases enabling illegal drug use."

Cuerrier, the BIA's new executive director was reached via email, where she redirected YGK News staff to a calendly link where those interested in speaking can book out 15 minutes to an hour of her time.

She eventually agreed to an interview before cancelling due to being in the midst of working with the BIA board on a response to the backlash to the letter.

The BIA says its mission statement is to "promote Downtown Kingston as the hip, vibrant, authentic, and healthy commercial, retail, residential, tourism, and entertainment centre of our region."

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News

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