Peterborough County moves ahead with state of homeless emergency requests for city, provincial, federal governments

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Peterborough County council will send formal requests to the provincial and federal governments — and also the City of Peterborough — asking them to declare a state of emergency on health care, housing, homelessness and addiction crises faced in many municipalities in provinces and across Canada.

“We need to work with our federal and provincial governments to ensure that we can get the funds flowing, or it will all be on the municipal taxpayers to get housing builds that need to happen,” said Sheridan Graham, chief administrative officer for the county, at Wednesday’s county council meeting.

As well, at the meeting, it was decided an invitation will be sent to the city requesting its staff who deal with these issues to provide an information update to county council at a coming meeting.

The city delivers social housing homelessness services to the county under the consolidated municipal services management agreement.

County staff will proceed with the planning of a collaborative discussion with Peterborough City, agencies and politicians, tentatively planned for the week of Sept. 26, and city staff “have been very open, collaborative and willing to discuss and work with us,” Graham said.

While the majority of councillors supported the motion regarding the emergency declaration, Otonabee-South Monaghan Mayor Joe Taylor said he was not in favour because he felt it was only “symbolic.”

But Cavan Monaghan Mayor Scott McFadden, who made the motion, disagreed, saying problems from homelessness and the other issues have increased in the last several years and he often no longer feels safe walking downtown in Peterborough.

“As a society, it’s unacceptable,” he said.

Selwyn Township Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis said it’s important to move ahead with the collaborative meeting and not wait until after the October municipal election.

“I think we need to get the show on the road,” she said. “We know that there are agencies that are involved in a myriad of issues that have to be dealt with. The only way we can do that is gather around the table, discuss ways and find solutions. And it’s so very important that we have our MP and MPP present because they’re the ones that we should go to.”

“I certainly believe that homelessness and its extensive health consequences constitute an emergency in our community. It is good to see the leadership to draw attention to the crisis,” medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott said Wednesday on social media.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at bburke@metroland.com.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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