Peterborough County looking for solutions to homelessness, mental health and addictions

·2 min read

Peterborough County staff will look into solutions to the interconnected “dire situation” of homelessness, mental health and addictions in the county, which could include declaring a state of emergency, council unanimously decided at its Wednesday meeting.

It endorsed a motion by Cavan Monaghan Township Mayor Scott McFadden to have staff prepare a report for council’s next meeting, recognizing the need for local discussions and actions among front line organizations, federal and provincial governments and community leaders.

Council will also send a letter to the City of Peterborough asking its council to pass a motion acknowledging these issues.

Recently, some Peterborough advocates called on the city to declare a state of emergency over homelessness, mental health and addictions’ issues in the city after Niagara Falls and Thorold did so.

“Peterborough County prides itself in being a caring and compassionate community that continually strives to be a place where people live, work and play,” said McFadden in his motion.

Providing access to safe, adequate, affordable housing for everyone is fundamental to achieving that goal, he continued, and the county acknowledges the homeless are in crisis and those living in shelters are not the solution.

Selwyn Township Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis agreed.

“I think the problem of homelessness will continue to grow for many reasons, and we, as a county, should be getting the conversation going to affect real change, taking the bull by the horns,” she said. “I think the federal and provincial governments again are going to, ultimately, have to provide funding.”

Staff are being asked to set up a meeting, inviting representatives from federal and provincial governments departments, Peterborough County and City, Brock Mission, Cameron House, the YES Shelter for Youth and Families, families in the overflow shelter, Peterborough and OPP police services, Peterborough City/County Paramedics, Peterborough Fire Services, United Way, Canadian Mental Health Association, Housing Services Peterborough, Kawartha Food Share, Friends Peterborough and FourCAST, as well as Dr. Thomas Piggott of Peterborough Public Health, and the chiefs of Hiawatha and Curve Lake First Nations.

Some councillors expressed concern that the motion would put a strain on staff to meet all its expectations. As a result, an addition was made giving CEO Sheridan Graham enough flexibility to deal with “the overall meaning of the motion.”

“I want the county … to be seen as doing something,” said Otonabee-South Monaghan Township Deputy Mayor Bonnie Clark. “I’ve seen this all before in the past and past and past, and we have had more deaths in our community than the average.”

Niagara Falls and Thorold city councils both voted in June to declare a state of emergency on mental health, homelessness and addiction.

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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