At the January 10 meeting of the Standing committee for Community Services, Protection, and Economic Development, Dr. Hillary Allen & Mr. Jeff Crowley asked Council to implement an agreement with Northumberland County and Transition House similar to the agreement made by Whitby and Durham. The committee endorsed the idea – or to at least to look into the idea – and it came up again at the Regular Council meeting on January 31. This time there was a delegation from Transition House management: Board Chair Neil Ellis, Board Treasurer Meaghan Macdonald and newly appointed Executive Director – Ike Nwibe. They tried to re-assure Council and residents that they would be good neighbours. Although they did not directly address the idea of an agreement, Councillors did.
Once again, Hillary and Jeff spoke about their concerns and gave an example of a recent assault by a Transition House resident in the nearby Trinity Church parking lot.
The Transition house people shared their vision which includes:
- Provide a 24/7 Drop in
- Have a low barrier requirement: allow couples, pets, LGBTQ etc.
- Health and Safety is a priority – safe for clients, staff, service providers
- Include space for Service Providers
- Provide guidance to employment opportunities
- Motel accommodation will be discontinued because the new building will have enough space. Similarly, the Warming Hub will move to 310 Division.
In response to a question by Councillor Barber, it was clarified that it must be safe for everyone and that residents must be “Committed to Rules” (there is a “drug use policy”). If you don’t follow the rules, you will be asked to leave. Ike commented that “Transition House cannot meet the needs of everyone”.
As well as Hillary and Jeff, Jeff McLean also addressed Council – he wanted a by-law that would ban the sale or consumption of drugs in public spaces like bus shelters, parks and playgrounds. He has a petition on this subject with 538 signatures. Council acted on his request – see motion below.
Councillors seemed agreeable to the idea of an agreement with Transition House and the County and Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty said that Transition House management were also OK with the idea.
Nicole Beatty’s Final Approved Motion included:
A report back by staff to:
- Comment on the proposed recommendations contained in the delegation [by Dr. Hillary Allen & Mr. Jeff Crowley];
- Report back on a review on the amendment of various Municipal By-laws that would enhance the ability to enforce nuisance related incidents on all municipal property, and to specifically include a provision on the prohibition of consuming illegal drugs in a public place and loitering in public places [as requested by Jeff McLean];
- Prepare a report that analyzes the Town of Whitby and Durham Region Social Services Agreement to understand the structure, responsibilities, and outcomes from the collaboration;
- Staff report to include an analysis of the costs, roles and responsibilities that the Town of Cobourg would have in the community management related to the housing and shelter services being proposed for 310 Division Street, Cobourg;
- Send a letter to Northumberland County and Transition House requesting them to meet with Town of Cobourg staff to establish an agreement with the municipality to address the management of 310 Division Street;
- Staff to conduct a review and legal consideration on the ability for Council to create and implement a licensing and/or a permit system for emergency shelters through a regulatory by-law in the Town of Cobourg that provides elements of protection, health and safety and nuisance control in the location and operation of an emergency shelter.
In summary, Council wants an agreement similar to that made by the Town of Whitby and described earlier (see Resources) plus some more control over public use of drugs. No time frame was provided.
Cobourg Blog report
- Move to get agreement on Rules for Transition House – 26 January 2024 – post includes details of suggested agreement
- Correspondence from Jeff McLean