Council to Pursue Agreement with Transition House

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.

The full approved motion can be downloaded here.

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.

Resources

Cobourg Blog report

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Sandpiper
23 days ago

Watching last nights informational on 310 Division leaves me more concerned and confused than ever . The whole process was well guarded ., Questions from the public were being lumped together and generalized , Answers were watered down and defused if even answered .
I know my 2nd written question disappeared as did the question box on my screen.
Issues will never known as this recorded session will not be made public by the County clearly stated .
This raises an even more important question . Who is actually responsible / accountable to the Citizens of Cobourg for this operation ???
The County or Operators of Transition House .? – Is Transition House actually a Private operation being funded by the County ? Through a Mortgage and other Subsidies & organizations ie the Parole system
If this is a Private Not For Profit operation which is what ( Private ) clearly came through in the meeting
Then there are a lot more Questions, , Controls and Term Licencing that needs to be Put in Place by the Town , the same as any For Profit Operator would have to go through to obtain Provincial Licencing statis . And what Qualifications do these operators and their employees actually have
if any ? Retirement Home s are strictly controlled through Licencing
How will the Town Shut this place down ,should it not live up to its promises ,,verbal commitments and marketing as thats all this meeting was all about —Marketing ,
Good Intentions are simply not enough this close to Home, families and children of Cobourg

John Mead
Reply to  Sandpiper
23 days ago

Stop the low entry conditions being proposed for 310 Division. Make it for true need ed space for older residents not an addiction house. Rethink the use of the Golden Plough . The Region has interfered to much in thisTown. save the Downtown from a greater influx of drifters squatters and tent boy scouts . Stop the funding to the tent encampment. What a disgrace it is to us all, that the Province allows children and young adults to pass every day on their way to school an example of becoming an addict. Why they are not up in arms bothers me,,

Dave
25 days ago

I feel concern and work like to see further action on restrictions placed on illegal drug use and a statement that it is not an issue where rights of users are trampled on but further protections put in for the majority of the residents of Cobourg.
Otherwise the Town slogan of “The feel good town” will develop a different relation to the one it was intended to impart.

Beachwalker
25 days ago

There is homelessness in Cobourg. The sky is falling! Give me a break!

Cobourg taxpayer
Reply to  Beachwalker
23 days ago

Do you own a large piece of property outside Cobourg where some of the homeless could be housed in their tents at your expense? Just asking because those of us close to the squatters in Cobourg are seeing house values plummet.

Concerned Taxpayer
25 days ago

Since this blog has many remarks about 310 Division and homelessness, the actions that Cobourg citizens can take are:

  1. Continue to raise awareness—inform the community about the programs and their implications.
  2. Petition and Advocacy: Organize petitions or letter-writing campaigns expressing concerns and demanding transparency and public consultation.
  3. Attend council meetings. Express your concerns during public comment periods. Use this platform to voice opposition and awareness and request explanations for the lack of consultation.
  4. Engage with Council Members: Reach out to individual council members to express and seek their support in addressing homelessness issues. Build relationships with sympathetic members who may advocate on behalf of the community.
  5. Legal Action: Explore legal action if there are grounds to challenge the programs implemented without proper consultation. This could involve seeking legal advice, filing complaints, or pursuing judicial review.
  6. Elections: Hold elected officials accountable by supporting candidates who prioritize transparency, accountability, and public participation. Mobilize community support for candidates who commit to addressing the issue.
  7. Public pressure: continue to apply public pressure through rallies, peaceful protests, and other forms of peaceful demonstration to highlight the community’s dissatisfaction and demand accountability.
  8. Documentation and Reporting: Keep detailed records of the lack of consultation, including dates, decisions made, and any relevant communications.
  9. Collaborate with Allies: Collaborate with affected advocacy groups with similar goals to amplify our collective voice and increase pressure on town council and the county.
  10. Communities can work towards holding town council and the county accountable and ensuring that programs are implemented with proper public consultation and transparency.
Bryan
Reply to  Concerned Taxpayer
25 days ago

CT,

Excellent “action” list.

Residents can also use the Town’s “official” complaint procedure. This gets the issue documented with timelines for issued and reply. It is the first step to making a complaint to the ombudsman. Don’t know if the County also has a complaints procedure.

The next step, if your complaint is not addresses satisfactorily is a complaint to the Ombudsman. This is an escalated level and requires a higher degree of “proof”.

Both are processes that the Town (County??) can’t ignore

Gerinator
25 days ago

I’m struck by the bullet above “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..” Kevin (below in response to Bryan) says that the Whitby shelter has not opened yet. If accurate then how is it possible for staff to understand the structure, the responsibilities and the outcomes? Bench marking is a time-honoured way of increasing probability of success for a project however the requisite of course is that there is an actual benchmark. Maybe this exercise will go nowhere just like the funding for infrastructure.

Kevin
Reply to  Gerinator
24 days ago

“…the latest estimate is the shelter will open later during the winter of 2024…”
See unanswered question 4 in the article. Whitby homeless shelter divides community, council (durhamregion.com)
Maybe this article should be part of the analysis. The outcomes are certainly unknown.

small town Ontario
Reply to  Kevin
24 days ago

on an ongoing basis. The deal passed, narrowly, amid threats of an interim control bylaw to pause the shelter, by a 6-3 vote in Whitby before being approved 19-8 (with four Whitby regional councillors opposing the town-region deal) at regional council.

An eye-opening experience
It has been an eye-opening experience to report on this story and to watch as residents and delegates have spoken to council about their feelings on the subject of the shelter, homelessness and the unsheltered.

For me, it has led to 17 stories on our website, durhamregion.com, that have resulted in nearly 200,000 page views in barely a three-month span. That is an unprecedented number of stories and page views on one topic, showing the keen level of interest in the subject in Whitby and beyond. In talking with veteran municipal politicians in Whitby, it has been the single biggest issue they have ever seen the town face.

Agree, and of particular interest an interim control bylaw to pause the shelter. Presenters and residents have been asking for this as far back as November when the purchase was announced by Northumberland County.

Sandpiper
25 days ago

The whole issue about The Shelter at 310 Division is a Slap in the Faces to Both Local Residents
the Down Town Business owners and all Tax payers of Cobourg in General for that matter
Firstly the Manner in which this was handled is Unconscionable , Concealment of Facts , the Lack of Full Disclosure to the Public , and the spewing of false suggestion is over whelming ,
There are Laws governing such actions .
There are and will continue to be damages to the neighbourhoods , income loss to business,
Loss of Property values, longer periods of time to sell Property and increases to Property owners insurance rates .
The new management have already stated ” they can not control what happens outside of their building ” like rifling through residential garbage bags and throwing it all around, going through our Cars and any where they can get in and assaults such as the recent Woody’s store Hatchet Robbery . This is now an Attraction / Hub and will be Marketed and , Advertised as a place to come by the County for people Problems and you can count on other Municipalities with in Northumberland will be divesting then selves of problems by sending them here . We have already experienced Peterborough and Durham regions using Cobourg as a drop off center ..
QUITE SIMPLY PUT
The County and the Management of Transition House need to be held accountable in this Agreement to the Residents and property owners of Cobourg . There needs to be a Property Value protection / compensation plan put in place .
If the County and its operations attract and bring such problems here then they are responsible
and if not this too needs to be addressed — Upfront and Fast

Downtowner
Reply to  Sandpiper
25 days ago

In comparison, an article of Pete Fisher’s on Today’s Northumberland, discusses a call for public input preparing a new strategic plan for the Campbellford Memorial Hospital as it moves to a new location and wants to prepare a 5 to 10 year plan for future direction that considers suggestions from the community residents. How refreshing…asking for concerns ahead of action. It is apparent there are communities actually caring about their population and their well being

cornbread
Reply to  Sandpiper
21 days ago

Property Value Protection/Compensation Plan…ie: Other people get a tax increase to pay for your bad luck? More Socialism??? Who gets to pay…Ask yourself the question.

Rational
25 days ago

The fact a timeline was not established for Staff to come back to Council on this matter, when 310 Division is expected to open in Spring 2024 (County’s announced timetable), is a “red flag” and the Mayor/Council don’t actually take this matter seriously and are just going through the “politically correct motions” for Cobourg Residents.

Given Enforcements (By Law/CPS) track record of amplified leniency since November 2022 in my view any implemented rules/regulations will be loosely enforced.

Liz
Reply to  Rational
25 days ago

Who actually owns the existing Transition House and what will become of it?

Rational
Reply to  Liz
25 days ago

A good question. Sorry I don’t know if it is owned by an individual and rented out to the County or Province or if they own it directly. Maybe some on this Blog might have some information.

If it’s owned by the County and Mr. Ellis is now manager of housing for Northumberland then it could be used as an overflow centre for low barrier residents – which would create another Cobourg problem.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Liz
25 days ago

There is a registered charity called TRANSITION HOUSE COALITION OF NORTHUMBERLAND (865909386 RR 0001) which I suspect owns Transition House since their financials show include land and buildings valued at $302,594 which is about right for the original purchase of the building.

In 2023 they received $1,378,547 from municipal/regional governments plus another $336,406 in “gifts without tax receipts”. So it appears that they got total taxpayer funding of almost $2M! They spent $791,274 on compensation for 10 employees and $65,863 on consultants. Curiously no employee earned more than $80K but 4 earned less than $40K.

Sandpiper
Reply to  Ken Strauss
24 days ago

Shell Co like any private Corp. they ( County ) shelter their main assets from Legal actions and Liability . The County will be standing there saying not our fault and don’t blame us
But keep them away from the County Buildings and employees

John Mead
Reply to  Ken Strauss
23 days ago

If the above information is correct and TH falls under the charities Act then cannot the actions of the charity be open to legal scrutiny as to its true intent. Most charities have a very long path to accepting income without strings attached
Has our Town Council legal department processsed his opportunity to place Cobourgs citizens views
To follow the example from Durham that has yet tobe opened seems to me a folly .like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted

Last edited 23 days ago by John Mead
Bryan
Reply to  John Mead
23 days ago

John Mead,

There may be statutes and regulations regarding the actual operation of charities. I’m not aware of any specific ones other than the CRA requirements. The CRA’s “charity” designation has little to do with actual operations. The CRA’s interest is financial. In order to get the income tax exemption and be able to issue donation tax receipts, charities must abide by a set of CRA rules regarding “charitable expenses”. Ken Strauss can better speak to this.

Jade
25 days ago

It will be the same Sitshow as we have now only worse. Cops won’t do anything Bylaw winter do anything. Tenters will find something to bitch about and not use it. Therefore the tents will remain. If not at Brookside then scattered all over town. Businesses and residents are in real trouble. The town is run by campers. Plain and simple.. nothing will change but get worse

Rational
Reply to  Jade
25 days ago

I tend to agree. This uTube video of MPP Picinni says Brookside is going up for sale by Infrastructure Ontario now – so will the campers move to 301 Division and continue their destructive ways? This is why High Barrier is required and those truly homeless be entitled to residency and not not drug addicts running around Cobourg committing crimes. why wouldn’t Council relay this information to us?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvmFr7Tojl4

Last edited 25 days ago by Rational
Ken Strauss
25 days ago

There is a meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 15, at the Best Western to protest the 310 Division debacle.

See https://wearecobourg.ca/ for details.

Jade
Reply to  Ken Strauss
25 days ago

It’s the same James guy that held one last time. He likes gis own voice and nothing about answering the problem. Waste if time to go. It’s a pitch to run for council. No questions.. just him spewing the same thi gs.

Liz
Reply to  Ken Strauss
25 days ago

What time is this meeting?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Liz
25 days ago

Liz, the previously linked website says “6:30 pm”. BTW, I’m not the organizer!

small town Ontario
Reply to  Ken Strauss
25 days ago

Who is the organizer and who will be speaking about 310 Division St?
The speaker/speakers will determine the turnout, and we don’t want to give the impression that residents are not interested in the eventual use of 310 Division.

Correct me if I am wrong please, but isn’t Northumberland County accountable to the Province?
I would like to see a public meeting with Conservative MPP David Paccini, Conservative MP Philip Lawrence, and our Police Chief. They can speak to residents, and answer questions about 310 Division St. being turned into Transition House, and the problems that it will bring. We don’t want to hear dull or common place remarks. We don’t want to see and hear political manoeuvring.
Mr. Piccini once gave some advice about holding political office. Actions versus Platitudes and Rhetoric. I respect those spoken words.
Mr. Lawrence should be there to show support for his fellow Conservative. Taxpayers paid for many posters telling us that he is their voice in Ottawa. This riding elected Mr. Lawrence so he is our voice in Cobourg. Please no more common place remarks.
Of course, the Police Chief. The ramifications of TH at 310 will be dumped on our Police Chief and his team.
All three should lead with solutions and a positive purpose

CountryGal
Reply to  Ken Strauss
25 days ago

Ken, this is another town hall type meeting being held by Mr. Bisson. If you wish to see what he will be representing, watch Tamara U. Rebel news video at http://www.fixourcities.com. Mr. Bisson was featured at the end purporting to have a stance on only accepting a “high” barrier shelter system in town that focuses on assisting the “true” homeless and not the addicted. I believe he states that we have a drug issue in town and not a homeless issues and therefore 310 should be high barrier. I don’t disagree with him. The new meeting at the Best Western is so that they can get a petition signed in person that can be used at the country level seeing as online petitions cannot be submitted.
If the County continues with the low barrier set up, it would meet the threshold that was outlined in the Waterloo decision and therefore the encampment could be dismantled. (logical thought process, but no facts have been divulged if that is what the county/municipality are planning).
Yet, Mr. Bisson is fighting for high barrier. My opinion is that the new TH is already a done deal with low barrier ideals that are supported by County, it’s board of Directors, Advocates and supporters.
All the petitions, protests, emails, begging and cajoling is not going to change what the enablers have set in their minds.
With enabling comes GREAT BIG grant dollars from the Feds… this is what this non profit coalition is banking on!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  CountryGal
25 days ago

CountryGal, your analysis sounds reasonable but I hope that you are wrong. I fear that shopping in Cobourg’s downtown will end if you are correct.

small town Ontario
26 days ago

https://www.timescolonist.com/local-news/new-supportive-housing-regulations-get-mixed-reaction-from-providers-8165889

I must admit I have not read the Durham/Whitby agreement because I am still upset.
because ,Cobourg citizens were not given any opportunity to voice their concerns.. Transition House or No Transition House.
Northumberland County staff and council just work on the implementation of it.

All that seems to be left is for Cobourg citizens to try and get an agreement to protect them against the violence, mental health issues, drugs, experienced in the past, for far too many years, at Chapel, John, James, Battel, downtown etc.

The link to the article dated Jan. 2024 talks about what the staff concerns are at supportive housing.
So,from inside 310. if parts of the building are for residents, and overnight homeless.
Can staff search guests and residents for drugs and weapons, before they are allowed to enter?
from the article –Swat teams have been called to the building in response to people allowed in as guests, sometimes blowing doors open to remove people and discovering weapons and drug money.”

310 Division is Chapel St. times 10,000

Downtowner
Reply to  small town Ontario
26 days ago
  • Agree with the disappointment you express with the lack of public input on the decision to move the shelter around the corner and make it amplified in service offered. Seems the public outcry having been voiced for five years was ignored when it came to deciding the new placement of the operation. I will add to that, the disappointment that the failures of the Transition House Coalition of Northumberland handling the unhoused was also passed over in determining the operating body for this newer endeavour. Very pleased to see some consideration being offered, on the back side of the deal, but will it be enough to protect property and business concerns from the hang abouts who will not enter the facility as we know…they are adverse to contributing to improvement in their lives but quite willing to take anything offered with no strings or effort on their part. Still hoping for improvement here in the downtown….but not holding my breath…..been saddened by defeat and dismissal, and inaction too many times now.
Cobourg taxpayer
26 days ago

I was feeling quite positive as I read through this latest blog and then I got to the “no time frame provided “ sentence and my heart sank. Is it not possible to instruct staff to complete the various reports by a certain date? The problems plaguing Cobourg in relation to Transition House have been going on for years, ask the neighbours. Why is council unable to set a timeline for this very important topic, 310 Division? If many of the drug addicts staggering around town become residents at 310, we already have an indication of how it is going operate.

Bryan
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
26 days ago

CT,
If Council set due dates for projects, it would create an expectations that staff would complete the project by the date and that Council would hold them to it. Both are unrealistic expectations.

Council set a 5% levy increase for 2024. Staff came back with 10%. Most of Council sat on their hands.

Kevin
Reply to  Bryan
25 days ago

Maybe setting due dates could be incorporated into the key performance indicators, KPIs, that have been mentioned in other posts. I really know nothing about KPIs but I do know without clear instructions, like deadlines, much time and money is wasted. Providing clear direction provides goals for employees to achieve which can increase job performance and satisfaction. Children need rules to learn how to behave. Read any legitimate literature on raising or teaching children and you will learn the importance of rules. Engineering problems have boundary conditions which set limits on designs to help achieve the desired goal.

On the other hand, the Whitby shelter has not opened, therefore we do not know how successful the agreement will be. We can study and copy it all we want but do not know if we should have a similar agreement. Transition House staff have no responsibility to people when they are not on TH facilities. Who will be responsible if there are problems on public and private property around 310 Division? Will anybody be held accountable?