Editor’s note: Shortly after this article was posted, the Town and County issued a statement – see update below.
It’s been several days since the Town deemed the encampment by homeless people on the West Beach to be illegal and they decided to do nothing. Since then drug dealers have tried to sell them drugs and fired shots (well, just one) causing a Police presence but still no word from any of the parties responsible. There are several news items on Today’s Northumberland and a large number of comments by the public on this blog and the Town’s Facebook page. I’m certain that councillors are getting deluged with emails from the Public but there’s been no reporting to the public on what is happening – if anything. Suggestions include bussing non-Cobourg residents out, housing them elsewhere, withholding tax payments to get the Town’s attention, evicting and taking our chances with a court case and more.
So far, the only politician to visit the site and make a statement has been MPP David Piccini – he said that the by-laws should be enforced but of course he cannot make that happen himself. Maybe he can get Ford to pass a law that says “notwithstanding” the Waterloo ruling, by-laws can be enforced.
But there’s been no statement from the Mayor or anybody in the Town – not even a follow up to the August 12 statement saying “we’re working on it”. Perhaps the upcoming regular Council meeting on 21 August will include a statement but the Agenda for that meeting is not yet available. It’s expected late today (18 August – go here).
The only statement from the Police is that they “continue to investigate this incident [the shooting]. At this time it is believed that there is no risk to public safety.”
The County is officially responsible for Social services including homelessness but have made no statement on what they might be doing, if anything. The subject was not brought up – at least not publicly – in the recent County Council meeting.
Update – 18 August
The above post was issued at 1:00 pm 18 August and at 3:49 pm 18 August, the Town and the County jointly released an update. A response or just good timing? Here it is in full.
County and Town of Cobourg continuing with coordinated action to support voluntary resolution to encampment by Cobourg West Pier
Cobourg, ON – August 18, 2023 – Northumberland County and Town of Cobourg staff continue to work together with community partners to ensure a coordinated response to the current encampment by the Cobourg West Pier, including connections to services for individuals who are tenting, and working towards by-law compliance. Partners including NHH Community Mental Health Services outreach workers, and the Cobourg Police Homeless Addiction Resource Project (HARP) team have been actively engaged.
“Our collective goal is to support voluntary resolution of the encampment through offers of service,” states Northumberland County Director of Community and Social Services Lisa Horne. “Outreach workers have been working directly with those tenting to connect them with supports in the community. Workers are attending the encampment regularly, making connections to emergency shelter, to the Help Centre for support with current rental listings, to social assistance registration, health, mental health and addictions support, food supports, and other essential services, depending on the needs of the individual.”
This week, as a precautionary health and safety measure, Town of Cobourg staff also introduced short-term measures such as garbage collection and porta-potties in this area, as part of its Parks Department operations for management of the property.
“This is a temporary response to reduce environment and health and safety concerns and to reduce community impacts while work is underway to support voluntary resolution of the encampment,” states Town of Cobourg CAO Tracey Vaughan.
Municipal Law Enforcement staff are conducting twice daily patrols of the area and will continue to enforce municipal by-laws related to nuisance, noise, and protection of trees and park lands. Regular updates are being provided to Council.
Northumberland County and the Town of Cobourg will continue to collaborate across their respective areas of operation, and with partner agencies, to ensure a coordinated response for supporting tenting individuals to transition from the encampment to community services. Should community members have any concerns regarding the violation of municipal by-laws, they are advised to contact the Town of Cobourg Municipal Law Enforcement department at 905-372-8380.
So the Town and County are doing something – that’s the good news.
Pete Fisher’s “Today’s Northumberland” has been doing a good job reporting the facts. Below are links to his current news items covering this. Some include videos.
Today’s Northumberland Reports
- MPP Visits homeless encampment along Cobourg Beach – 18 August
- Target of shooting in Cobourg said Suspects wanted to sell Drugs at encampment – 18 August
- Cobourg Police Investigating Gunshots at homeless encampment – 17 August
- “We Just Want to Survive” Says Resident of Homeless Encampment on Cobourg Shoreline – 11 August
Previous Cobourg Blog Report
- Town Announces Situation on Homeless Camps – 12 August 2023
- Town of Cobourg Municipal Law Enforcement Responds to Encampment by West Pier – 12 August – no word from the Town since this statement.
Town Encampment Response Plan
Town Facebook page
- Link to Town Facebook – For relevant post and comments, look for Cobourg Municipal Law enforcement and Licensing – 5 days ago as of 18 August – 114 comments at last check