Council Rejects Sleeping Cabins Idea

There was a full gallery Monday night to hear Council debate what to do about the proposed Sleeping Cabins idea.  First came three delegations: 1) Alastair McKeating of Northumberland Sleeping Cabin Collective (NSCC) reported on engagement and governance as previously reported here; 2) Keith Oliver spoke about how the discussion was becoming chaotic; and 3) Anita Turek spoke on behalf of neighbours to the proposed location.  The debate was long but in the end, Council was decisive and came up with a plan although not what was wanted by Green Wood, Missy McLean or NSCC.  Mayor Lucas Cleveland was clear on his position with a statement that is reported below – although this was interrupted from the gallery.  In general, councillors were constructive.

Presentations by Delegations

Alastair McKeating of Northumberland Sleeping Cabin Collective (NSCC) presented the NSCC report on engagement and governance as previously reported here.  Alastair was professional but was clearly selling the project.  He emphasized that he was not looking for immediate approval of the whole project but simply approval for the next step.

Keith Oliver feels that discussion on this subject has degenerated into a state of what can only be described as chaos.  “This chaos is beginning to undermine our precious shared confidence that those we elect to govern will do so to the benefit of us all”.  He says that “You, the elected members of Cobourg Town Council, have the responsibility to lead”. He said that “One possible form that leadership could take is through the creation of a Housing Summit“. Keith’s full script is available below.

Anita Turek spoke eloquently and in detail about all the problems with the proposal.  She pointed out that the Green Wood coalition and NSCC have aligned with the illegal activity of unsanctioned consumption tents by partnering at events and by having a board member who actively supports these unsanctioned sites. She questioned the validity of the one-day online survey and many other statements by NSCC.

She said that:  “Yes we are aware that affordable housing is an issue and a priority, and that the lot could be designated as future affordable housing. We were looking forward to welcoming families to that piece of land alongside the new Firefighter museum which would invigorate our community and increase tourism and revenue to the community. If this was a proposal for habitat for humanity, you would see support and we would grab a hammer and help.”

Her presentation is well worth reading – see below.

Council Debate

It was clear that Council was not happy with the proposal as it stood.  Councillor Aaron Burchat proposed that instead of Furnace Street, the Cabins could be located at the CCC since it belongs to the Town and is not yet fully used.  He said that the County does not have land but the Town does –”Here’s what we can do”.  His idea was not supported. Councillor Adam Bureau said that the “County should come to the Town”, “there has to be a process” and “the County are the professionals on this”.  Councillor Brian Darling said that approving the Cabins as an interim measure would simply give “the County and the Province time to drag their feet”. Councillor Randy Barber was concerned about the time Staff would need to spend on the project plus the many citizen objections.

But Mayor Cleveland’s statement caused a stir.  Part way through his statement, someone spoke from the gallery and a short recess was called to handle this. (A source told me that it was Missy McLean who spoke and she was ejected from the room). Lucas said that “We are judged by the company we keep”. He said he initially supported the project but that in the last 2½ to 3 weeks the illegal consumption sites have been linked to the Cabins.  After the interruption, Lucas made the following statement:

“…. I was a big supporter of this initiative and I still recommend that individuals behind this initiative who want to see housing for our community members most vulnerable, those who want to see a change in policy, to look to agencies and organizations that are willing to follow the procedures and formal processes that are in place.  But when I see groups failing to follow the processes to which we are all held to account and those groups are associated with other groups – it’s hard for me to support any initiative when those individuals have shown blatantly that they choose not to respect the rule of law and the rules that have been set forth in this council.” [Approx. 3:34 on video of meeting on escribe].

Given the obvious reluctance to approve Cabins on Furnace Street, Deputy Mayor Beatty moved that the Furnace street location be made available to the County per this motion:

That Council receive this staff report on the proposed Sleeping Cabin Pilot initiative for information purposes; and
Further that Council direct staff to declare the southwest portion of the parking lot (23.5m x 44 m) at 206 Furnace Street as surplus land; and
Further that Council direct staff to reach out to Northumberland County to explore their interest in the property and consideration of possible options for how the site could be used to achieve their affordable housing targets, and
Further that Council direct staff to proceed with a formal Request for Proposal process for the disposal of the lands for the purpose of affordable housing should Northumberland County not pursue this site, and
Further that Council direct staff to conduct public engagement with the surrounding neighbourhood on any options that may materialize.

After debate, this motion was approved and was the final decision on the matter of cabins on Furnace Street. 

Subject to ratification at the regular Council meeting next week, this project is dead. Note that the property is zoned institutional so residential housing would require re-zoning.

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DKC
10 months ago

Reply To Bryan:

My reply about good mental health inpatient programs in the province, was in reply to Miriam’s note about a hospital program in Timmins. We currently, as I said, do not have an inpatient mental health program at our hospital. If one is assessed and needs intensive mental health assistance, they can only access it in Peterborough, Whitby or possibly Kingston in terms of close proximity.

Bryan
Reply to  DKC
10 months ago

DKC,

How unfortunate for the people in need in Cobourg.

So the issue remains: a serious lack of addiction rehab, medical and mental health services in Cobourg (and many other Ontario towns). Without these, any housing projects, tiny or otherwise, are just problem warehousing.

Last edited 10 months ago by Bryan
Carol-Anne Caswell
Reply to  DKC
10 months ago

The Mental Health Unit for the hospital is on Elgin Street. They have walk in programs & excellent counselling services.

John Draper
Reply to  Carol-Anne Caswell
10 months ago

Their web page is here: https://nhh.ca/walk-in-counselling Their address is 1011 Elgin Street West, Suite 200, Cobourg That’s in the same plaza as Hakim Optical.

DKC
Reply to  Carol-Anne Caswell
10 months ago

Carol-Anne…..They may have walk in programs and counselling services, but that does not take the place of a HOSPITAL INPATIENT mental health unit at Northumberland Hills which I believe is the direction we should be going considering that our population is increasing and we should be looking to provide more in depth services to this community beyond what you have mentioned. That being said, I have no doubt that the counsellors do a great job just the same and I am in no way diminishing the work that they do.

DKC
10 months ago

Reply To Miriam:

There are many good programs in the province. Notably, they should have good multi-disciplinary team representation including Psychiatry, Psychology, Pharmaceutical, Nursing, Social Work and Occupational and Recreational Supports. A good inpatient program with acute and rehab services as well as a professional plan in place to support community placement and monitoring by integrated community access programs with treatment orders in place to allow for integration back to a hospital setting if and when needed.

Bryan
Reply to  DKC
10 months ago

DKC,

You indicate that there are many good programs in the province. That may be so, but they don’t seem to be any in Cobourg.
Are there any?
How long does a new “client” have to wait before they receive help?

DKC
10 months ago

As per my comment dated in Mid December, be careful what you wish for. Sleeping cabins lead to potential tents all across the town, in our parks, streets and community in general (eventually) and illegal drug enabling and promotion. There are properly supervised rehabilitation services if one wants to do the hard work needed to face first and then commit to beating addiction. The individual must first want to before anything else. As well, there are very good mental health services which anyone can access working through their doctor or any of the many social service agencies or health services in the community. Proper assessment for inpatient and outpatients are available with the proper community follow up. Unfortunately, the whole idea of “mental health” is being used as a catch all phrase to rationalize gun violence, poverty, substance abuse and many other ills in our society. Mental Health denotes serious psychological illnesses which are too numerous to mention here and are managed with a high degree of expertise and success for the most part. I know of what I speak having spent thirty five years as a social worker at a group home in Toronto as well as thirty three years as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse at both Queen St. Mental Health Centre; (now the Center for Addiction and Mental Health) as well as Whitby Mental Health Centre; (now known as Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. My work was assessment and stabalization and in both facilities dealt with major mental illness. Trust me, there are no easy answers and mental health should in no way be trivialized or minimized. The dismantling of the many tent sites as well as inappropriate drug injection sites in Vancouver tell one eveyything they need to know about how these problems can mushroom and be enabled as well as mismanaged. What is needed in our community is a mental health inpatient ward as a part of Northumberland Hills Hospital. This should be the goal for those that want the help they so desperately need. We as citizens should promote the idea because mental Health issues and diagnosis are only increasing. The reasons are multifaceted and require a high degree of skilled health care professionals.

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  DKC
10 months ago

I understand that a current successful programs model was developed by the Timmins and District Hospital. I have not reached out directly to this service provider and recognize their service area is quite expansive. Their funding model may also be of interest. Here is a link to on-line information:
https://www.tadh.com/programs-and-services/addiction-services

Newbie
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
10 months ago

Interesting. Thank you Miriam.

Pinewood centre in Oshawa has a detox facility…free of charge. They also provide counselling and referrals.

The only step toward addiction recovery and mental health issues is detoxifying first. This provides a clearer mind, a professionals better understanding of what the underlying issues are…so you can be directed toward the professionally tailored support one needs.

I 100% agree with your statement DKC:

“ Unfortunately, the whole idea of “mental health” is being used as a catch all phrase to rationalize gun violence, poverty, substance abuse and many other ills in our society”

I firmly believe “victimhood “is in many ways replacing responsibility.

I have some lived and worked experience, as well. Working with persons with mental health issues for 5 years, probation officer for young offenders, and my own lived experience in the mental health system and as a recovering addict, just over a year sober.

2 treatment facilities: Pinewood and The house of Sophrosyne…both free of charge, but waitlists.

Cabins where people can freely and openly use heroin, crystal meth, cocaine,, etc, is definitely not a solution. I am fully and all too familiar with the behaviours brought on by these hard, mind-bending drugs. To deny these behaviours is to deny a huge part of the problem. People shy away from talking and having a healthy debate on these behaviours—for fear of reprisals from certain “advocacy” groups shutting them down with bullish, name calling behaviours…censoring many important voices in our community.

We need law and order. Crime is crime…whether it is categorized as petty or violent. One’s rights should never supersede another’s.

Joe
Reply to  DKC
10 months ago

Thanks so much for your very concise and well worded wrapup of this volatile situation. I couldn’t agree more.

Mark
10 months ago

Probably time to pressure the County to keep the old GPL open for afford house rooms , the standards for housing is lower than LTR
The rest of the rooms are being air conditioned this spring as mandated by the province as the new building is not going to be ready in another two years
They will still need to spend hundreds of thousands to replace the old boilers , update the electrical and add more wc
but it will still be cheaper than building new affordable housing

Sandpiper
10 months ago

Keith I think the Mayor is correct in his assumption
Its nothing new for Cobourg to stumble Blindly into a situation or
a supposed opportunity only to be led down the Garden path and left with a bigger problem .
Council always falls back on the Oh Well I am not a ??? and must rely of the Staff repots / guidance that out departments provide us with OH well Such as Life ! that doesn’t work for me anymore . Cobourg just had a ? 14 to 16 % Tax increase this yr. Mistake and overspending Driven !
Lets just look at the recent Bolder building Council failed to properly Identify and secure the Number of affordable units that we were promised and yet Bolder still gets all the subsidies and cost relief from the Tax Payers . — If this Tiny Village becomes a problem and the County
is not behind this Good intentions group who gets stuck with the problem when the Volunteers
of little experience and minimal funding walk away . Tell me Please

Keith Oliver
10 months ago

Throughout many of the comments about the Memorial Arena sleeping cabin project, how it would be operated, how the clients will be selected, the services they would have access to, etc, it is clear that few people have read the 9 page information package available through the parent NSCC. If anything they appear to be over organized and overly cautious in trying to answer every problem before it becomes one

The one mistake I feel Mayor Cleveland make was to lump together the Safe Injection Site programme with the sleeping cabins. The first is unrepentant in its’ quest to save lives, reach the addicted, while the cabin promoters have been meticulous in following an established process.

As I said in my delegation to the Town Council meeting of April 3, the associated problems keep growing, the chaos keeps growing and there are no solutions in sight. After all these years there is only rancor.

I’ve talked to those actively involved in running the Help Center and was struck when they said how difficult it was to come to work when there were more and more people in need and less and less help available.

Eventually our Town will pay a price and it will be a substantial one.

Last edited 10 months ago by Keith Oliver
NAI
Reply to  Keith Oliver
10 months ago

Issue though Keith, is I believe the solutions presented do not address the basic causes.

I drive up and down Division daily and see numerous ‘we’re hiring’ billboards, averaging 20 bucks an hour. Over a year, it’s about 40k gross. Can one subsist on that? Let’s see.

If we can provide affordable housing (1500/mth) = that’s about 18000 a year. Throw in say, 6k for expenses and utilities, and perhaps another 6k for food, so we’re at 30k to live. So,. 40k would be tight but I would say provided people give it an honest effort, they could make it work.

What would sleeping cabins and safe injection sites do? Sure, they may delay the inevitable but in and of themselves they don’t solve the root problem – and in my view, the problem is people see alternatives available to them which permit them to continue down the destructive path they are on and require less effort to receive than a 40 hour a week job.

Yes, many of those affected have other legitimate medical concerns which sadly our system is not helping with. But that to me is not a reason to give them safe areas to continue down their destructive paths.

Now, there are also those folks out there who do need the sleeping cabin initiative to bridge the gap from homelessness to standing on their own two feet. How do we ensure we provide help to those who truly need it?

This is such a hard issue. At first blush I see the benefits of the initiative, but in reading the proposal literature, I don’t see how this will address the cause in the long run. This may be because I am simply too dense, or perhaps too unaware of the other concerns this could address. But as it stands, I agree with the council and their decision at this time.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  NAI
10 months ago

Thanks for your financial analysis, NAI. However you ignored the possibility of shared accommodations. Two working for $20/hour is over $80K per year. That easily pays for a market price 2BR plus food etc. Why not share?

NAI
Reply to  Ken Strauss
10 months ago

Absolutely! I was going worse case scenario, but even using that, it ‘could’ be done. Start bringing in other options – shared, lower rent, maybe food bank once a month – there are ways to make it more affordable, in a very dignified manner.

marya
Reply to  NAI
10 months ago

With all due sympathies to today’s difficulties, I am reminded of 50 years ago, and all things and all costs being relative, we thought that $300.00 a month for a rental apartment was tremendously high and that we would never be able to purchase a home. There were no food banks, no governmental “bonuses” and no breakfast programmes for our children; no free backpacks filled with school supplies (which Teachers would instead prefer to be left at home). We all struggled and through determination, we all made it happen.

marya
Reply to  Keith Oliver
10 months ago

The reality is that, given it’s population, Cobourg is defined as a small Town, which is considered to be slightly smaller than an average subdivision within an urban area where the essential resources are available.

Doug
10 months ago

We need a Canada wide program with input from every province and then reach out to every community. We are one of at least the 10 top richest countries in the world. Millions, billions are spent on lots of incidental things in Canada. If we all came together and listened to all ideas we could soon have a program to start to help homeless people. I worked with developmentally challenged adults, challenged students and young offenders. If we had had their lives and the family abuse that many of them had gone through then any one of us could be right there on the street with the homeless. If collectively, our governments took a step towards truly helping the homeless we could soon improve the lives of many people in short order.

Cobourg taxpayer
10 months ago

I voted for Nicole Beatty the first time she ran, not this last time. She is way too far left for me. I read over her bio she posted online when she ran for Deputy Mayor. She clearly states she has worked with Greenwood Coalition and she claims she launched Think Tiny Homes Northumberland. She is clearly showing her far left leanings and should be declaring a conflict of interest on these topics when voting on council. Also how’d her research go in regards to the unsanctioned illegal drug consumption sites required in order for her to vote on this issue and not abstain? Should she not be held accountable and report back publicly?

Informed
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
10 months ago

A definite conflict of interest observed through wishy washy answers and asking council questions to deflect her inability to make decisions based on the best interests of all Cobourg citizens.

Cobourg resident
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
10 months ago

Yes unfortunately people weren’t paying enough attention during the election about how involved she is with GWC, and she definitely didn’t offer that information up during the campaign. If she had, results likely would have been different. We know where Suzanne Sequin stood on all of these issues. The conflict of interest really should have been made known to voters. Hopefully Nicole might distance herself from GWC and Missy McLean and remember that Cobourg taxpayers pay her salary. If she wanted to just focus on these issues she should have gotten a job with GWC, not for the Town of Cobourg.

marya
10 months ago

Thankfully, councillors were not duped, deceived, tricked or fooled by these groups who are functioning in reverse with these concepts.

Give me a break
10 months ago
  1. My only question to Missy and David from GreenWood Coalition ….. why not approach Port Hope since David lives there and see if they would welcome the sleeping cabins …… and don’t use the excuse that there is no hospital nearby in Port Hope and that Transition House is there for those in Northumberland ….. or better still a delegation to the County, Health Unit or MPP office in Port Hope…… enough is enough with these unqualified folks. How about helping us ID the traffickers …. Time for the Deputy Mayor to concentrate her efforts on helping those in Cobourg that need affordable housing and assistance getting by …. I don’t think that those that voted for her wanted her to spend so much effort and time at Council asking the same questions over and over and challenging others on Council to answer her questions ….
Kathleen
10 months ago

Today’s Northumberland posted a video of the outburst at Monday’s Council meeting. Missy and her gang continue to lose any support and respect they may have had, with their adolescent outburts. They are their own worst enemies. Nichole Beatty continues to show that she aligns herself more with extreme leftists than she does with Cobourg citizens as a whole.

Ken
Reply to  Kathleen
10 months ago

With all due respect…..let’s not forget that mental illness is everywhere!

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Ken
10 months ago

With all due respect, that is an inane, meaningless comment. Are you suggesting that Missy and crew are mentally ill? Are you suggesting that some members of Council are mentally ill? Who are you suggesting are mentally ill? Where did you get your degree in mental health sciences to be able to make such a meaningless comment? Or is this just a sleaze phrase to denigrate certain parties without a slander suit following?

With all due respect, let’s not forget that malevolence is also everywhere.

Gwen Devaney
Reply to  Wally Keeler
10 months ago

I’d just like them to stop calling themselves the NSCC. Which is also short for “Northumberland Standard Condominium Corporation”, which we are entitled to use.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Ken
10 months ago

What better excuse to Prescribe Drugs other than for Depression

Rob
10 months ago

While I don’t often agree with Keith Oliver on this blog, I’d like to acknowledge his excellent presentation to Council. Nice work Keith.

Rob
10 months ago

I hope in time Cleveland will learn how to get out of his own way – his diatribe, was typically long winded, contradictory and ultimately created a disruption within the gallery (“we are judged by the company we keep”). Beatty allowed her personal agenda and her personal beliefs to interfere with the beliefs and wishes of the Cobourg taxpayers – lets try to keep them in mind. Her Liberal stripes are becoming more and more apparently. Low income housing in a future, amazing, mixed use, development space like the Tannery District…give your head a shake.

Last edited 10 months ago by Rob
ben
10 months ago

Mayor Cleveland:
““…. I was a big supporter of this initiative and I still recommend that individuals behind this initiative who want to see housing for our community members most vulnerable, those who want to see a change in policy, to look to agencies and organizations that are willing to follow the procedures and formal processes that are in place. But when I see groups failing to follow the processes to which we are all held to account and those groups are associated with other groups – it’s hard for me to support any initiative when those individuals have shown blatantly that they choose not to respect the rule of law and the rules that have been set forth in this council.” “

How inconvenient that some people disrupted the process of the Sleeping Cabins debate by advocating for something else that would save lives. By means of a spurious connection between the two groups he (Mayor Cleveland) had a way to avoid immediate action by his Council.

As the point person at the County – Chair of the County Wellness committee and being unwilling to listen to any debate about the situation at his Council; perhaps he could tell us what he is doing at the County instead of skating on the issue in Cobourg.

Last edited 10 months ago by ben
Dave
10 months ago

Relieved the Sleeping Cabins have been vetoed. Viewing other up and running sites they do resemble a shanty town. I question also whether this is appropriate housing for those suffering from mental afflictions who like the addicts can choose whether they want to partake in the wrap around services.
As for the advocates calling Shame – well shame on them. As social service advocates they should be interacting with the addicts, encouraging them through counselling to seek abstinence programs and to services such as Transition House where they would be less likely to encounter active drug users and the mentally unstable live under supervision directed to programs that care for their illnesses.
Vancouver now is acting to dismantle the homeless tent cities, Alberta has closed Harm Reduction Sites and opened up rehabilitation centres. Longer experience has proved to them that projects such as the Sleeping Cabins only enable as do the tent cities and the social workers providing there. From a grain of sand the homeless encampments and entitled views of they and the advocates have grown to a rampaging elephant these past several years, more deaths through continued drug use and wasted lives.

Last edited 10 months ago by Dave
Bill
10 months ago

I am also relieved that the sleeping cabins proposal was rejected. It’s disturbing that Aaron Burchat suggested locating them at the CCC and that the mayor initially supported the inane proposal. Thanks to you, John Draper, for all your reporting inciting public awareness and reaction. Hopefully, positive results will ensue with the upcoming meeting with the police chief and that the CPS will take appropriate measures with issues that concern taxpayers such as illegal consumption sites (tents).

cornbread
Reply to  Bill
10 months ago

A shanty town at the CCC??? Remember this idea at the next election. Like a turd in the mid le of the dance floor at a wedding…Aaron, gove your head a shake.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  cornbread
10 months ago

Cornbread

“Like a turd in the middle of the dance floor at a wedding.” Something a prepubescant 12 year old would say in a desperate attempt to get attention. No wonder you don’t use your real name!

Last edited 10 months ago by Keith Oliver
Sandpiper
Reply to  cornbread
10 months ago

Perfect Showers , Wash rms Warming center and Jobs across the road
we don’t have to build a thing or spend a dime The CCC is a $$$ looser any way

Give me a break
Reply to  Bill
10 months ago

Can’t believe that Aaron would mention the CCC ….. who will maintain it 24/7… he needs to deal with reality and have the facts. ….

Cobourg taxpayer
10 months ago

I am very relieved to hear this decision made by council. Very disturbing the way certain members of the NSCC act as if the rules and laws don’t apply them and storm out like spoiled children. This is an indication of how the cabins would have been managed. Thank you council for making the right decision. Now the Friday night illegal consumption sites need to be stopped, no more warnings how about enforcement and charges laid?

Rational
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
10 months ago

Fully agree. Cobourg residents need the Coburg Police Service to become involved, which to this point they have not.

The Police Chief said the following in a March 20th statement posted on this blog: “The Cobourg Police Service follows the 2020 Federal Crown’s directive on the possession of controlled substances. We do not arrest individuals for simple possession of illicit drugs alone, focusing on more serious cases raising public safety concerns.” With his statement the 2020 Federal Crown’s directive was provided to support the comment – here is the link.

https://www.ppsc-sppc.gc.ca/eng/pub/fpsd-sfpg/fps-sfp/tpd/p5/ch13.html

In Section 3. 3. a, b, and c. I believe that this can be interpreted that the Cobourg Police Services can provide support to the residents of cobourg and initiate enforcement action relating to the unsanctioned drug tents/sites (Victoria Park and Public Parking Lot, plus future sites) and be following the Directive they say is guiding them.

Last edited 10 months ago by Rational
Silverhairedsenior
Reply to  Rational
10 months ago

Agree with Cobourg taxpayer’s thoughts. Surely the police can & should be intervening with those who are setting up these illegal sites & laying charges. Trespassing on private property, permit violations, or other legal reason s to close down the temporary sites. If not, then council should create such bi-laws.