In 2023 budget deliberations, Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty moved that staff be directed to use funds allocated to address the Opioid crisis ($35k) to “explore options for outreach support service towards the Town’s Homeless response.” At the DBIA management meeting on 6 November, Brent Larmer presented a “Welcoming Streets and Neighborhoods Pilot program” to respond to this direction. Not everyone is happy with this plan. Basically, it would require hiring someone to patrol downtown and look after problems “that do not require police intervention, with a longer-term vision to achieve an increased sense of safety and inclusion in the downtown core.” The intent is to improve the relationship between Business Owners and “community members experiencing homelessness or facing mental health and/or addiction challenges”.
Brent used a long Powerpoint presentation to explain the program – most of it concerned goals and objectives. Download from resources below.
Welcoming Streets and Neighborhoods Pilot program
Cobourg and DBIA specific Goals:
- Preventing unnecessary police and by-law involvement;
- Facilitating positive relationships between business owners and vulnerable individuals,
- Ensuring that street involved individuals are linked with the services they need.
- Lead to less disruptions and occurrences in the Downtown.
- To promote a safe and welcoming downtown
Pilot Program Details
Potential Approach (not edited or summarized)
- Hire 1.0 FTE on a six (6) month contract with funding through Town of Cobourg (position hired by Town – $35,000) and DBIA (funding TBA)
- Connect with others in similar positions in the agency to create an approach and share resources and assist with relationship building to link the Downtown
- Work downtown weekdays, weekends with hours flex (day, mid-day, evening)
- 80% Downtown Outreach on foot throughout the core and DBIA including waterfront area. 20% in office setting preparing/performing training and materials and corresponding with agencies and partners.
The total budget is estimated at $57.3K. The unfunded amount is $22.3K and this would come from the DBIA or a Federal Grant.
Brent recognizes that there are risks:
- Recruitment issues in the job force: there may be difficulty finding the right individual for the unique job opportunity, potential for turnover (maybe look at engaging a local organization to provide the support)
- Safety Concerns: could be times when worker could be in a compromised situation working alone (maybe looking at two individuals – One FT and One PT – Part-time to only attend street outreach)
- Communications – potential for comments and criticism of program with lack of information (maybe have a prepared comms plan with TofC [Town of Cobourg?] comms and DBIA coordinator).
- Resourceless – Not being accepted and seen as an additional support in the community and being part of larger community outreach conversations (Value in having the person connected to resources such as County Social Services relationships and NHH – multiple partners are needed and the person/team needs to be a good connector).
How is this different from other Initiatives (summary)
- It’s another tool
- Alternative to police and by-law involvement
- It is a non-confrontational and non-institutional approach
- Direct connection with Town to clean up garbage, respond to sharps.
- Direct training to business – ex: De-Escalation and Anti-Stigma Training offered to all businesses.
Next Steps (summary)
- Following the Special DBIA Meeting (no date specified), if supported and endorsed, finalize the Welcoming Streets and Neighborhoods Pilot Program Staff Report to Council:
- Committee of the Whole Meeting – 27 November, 2023
- Regular Council Meeting – 4 December, 2023
- Federal Grant submission date – 22 November, 2023
- Starting planning and implementing program January 2024.
- Partnership local and joint press release.
There’s no mention of asking the public what they think. The Council representative on the DBIA Board is Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty – it’s likely that she supports the idea. Support (or not) from other Councillors would presumably be at their meetings on 27 November and 4 December. However, it’s not known if DBIA members support the idea and a schedule to get DBIA approval was not available. It could be at the DBIA AGM which I believe is on 30 November.
14 November 2023
At Monday’s Council meeting Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty said that there would be a DBIA board meeting on November 16 to decide on this matter.