At the end of regular Council meetings, there is a section where Councillors report on what has been happening. At Monday’s meeting (September 11), instead of giving a report, Mayor Lucas Cleveland invited Councillors to ask any questions they wanted re the encampments happening in Cobourg. He was doing that in his role as Cobourg’s representative on County Council and this would be his report back to Council. He acknowledged that he, and other councillors, were getting deluged with emails – this last week alone he received 780. Brian Darling wanted to confirm that if an email had on the address line the Mayor and all Councillors and possibly others, that it should be the Mayor who was responsible for an answer. Lucas agreed – he will answer them all – although it will take a while.
So what information did the Mayor provide?
- People cannot be forced to accept help or accommodation. The current system is that there is a shelter system – and there is capacity. Lucas said that 7 people had accepted shelter this week [this sentence edited to correct a misquote!].
- The end goal is to have everyone in shelters.
- The campers’ hierarchy creates barriers to helping. People need to enter the system to get help.
- Adam Bureau asked about what happens when the people move from Brookside. Lucas said that the Town’s by-law people will continue to enforce the by-laws (the implication is that they won’t stay in one place very long).
- In response to a question from Nicole Beatty, Lucas said that although existing shelters may be expanded, there is no budget nor a plan to add a new shelter. The county is already spending a lot and it’s not possible to focus on just 40 to 50 individuals. Lucas said the County is doing a great job but that he realizes that for some, there will never be enough done or spent. He pointed out that 80% of the money spent on this comes from Northumberland taxpayers with 65 to 70% of it spent in Cobourg. He cannot see the County increasing its budget by the millions asked for.
Lucas emphasized that he will respond to all emails but from examples I’ve seen, it may be weeks or months. Meanwhile we need to rely on communication via announcements on the Town’s web site, Facebook page, news sources and Council meetings.
The Town continues to spend a lot of time and resources on this issue and this is distracting from other issues – It’s hard to see how the campers benefit from the negative attention they are getting. So why are they not all accepting help?
- See also report by Today’s Northumberland – Interview of Mayor on the subject of encampments
- Town Announcement on 9 September
- Video of Council meeting – Mayor’s comments per above report start at 1:12:14