Statement by Warden Brian Ostrander about recent online commentary

In the interest of reporting all sides of a news story, I am reporting on a statement issued by the Warden of Northumberland County about the encampment. It’s good to get an update from the County – the following text is provided unedited from Warden Ostrander’s statement issued at 1:18 pm on June 14. Northumberland continues to face the significant challenge of rising homelessness. Today, like communities across the province, we are witnessing the convergence of multiple crises – an opioid addiction crisis, a housing affordability crisis, and the residual effects of a global pandemic, including a dramatic rise in the overall cost of living. These issues have been building for years, and people have been hard hit. This reality… Read complete articleStatement by Warden Brian Ostrander about recent online commentary

County Report on Homelessness

The annual “Housing and Homelessness report” was presented today (June 5) at the Social Services Committee meeting. The report provides details on the number of people looking for affordable housing plus what the County is doing about that.  The report states that “the waitlist for social housing continues to be 10 years in some communities and has grown more than 300% in the last 10 years, with over 1,100 households on the waitlist. In 2023, the average vacancy rate in Northumberland was 1.3%. This vacancy rate is close to the 2023 provincial average of 1.7%.”  The report lists the new housing being built and lists buying 310 Division as an accomplishment but does not mention the encampment.  It’s as if… Read complete articleCounty Report on Homelessness

Police Chief reports on Shopping Cart Retrieval Project

On the Victoria Day holiday, Chief Paul VandeGraaf issued three Press Releases updating Police actions on their “Dynamic Patrol” as part of their “Downtown Action Plan”. One reported that 83 stolen shopping carts were recovered, 53 of these were from the encampment; the second reported an arrest of a woman with a stolen Winners cart containing stolen property; the third reported the arrest of a woman shoplifting downtown. More details are available below. These all happened on May 18 and 19. From this we can be assured that Police are active on weekends and that the shopping cart retrieval project has been successful with a large number retrieved from the encampment. No charges were laid relating to the retrieval of… Read complete articlePolice Chief reports on Shopping Cart Retrieval Project

Police Chief reports on Encampment

It’s not known why Police don’t issue useful reports on what’s happening with the homeless encampment but as reported on Pete Fisher’s web site, occasionally Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf does report to interested groups. On May 8, the Chief spoke to residents at Retirement home Palisade Gardens which is not far from the encampment. Pete’s report is long and comprehensive and I recommend reading it (see Resources below) but I will report on the highlights. Chief VandeGraaf spoke about no longer feeling safe downtown, is there in fact more crime now, why don’t Police kick people out of the encampment, why aren’t people who are acting crazy arrested, what’s happening with the Dynamic Patrol and more about the shopping cart… Read complete articlePolice Chief reports on Encampment

International Harm Reduction Day – 7 May

A Press Release issued today by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit on behalf of the HKLN Drug Strategy (Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland Drug Strategy) says that they recognize May 7 as “International Harm Reduction Day”.  The group called HKLN Drug Strategy promotes “evidence-based policies, practices and programs to reduce the social, legal and health-related harms associated with substance use”. They work towards “the reduction of the stigma associated with substance use” and “reducing substance use-related harms to individuals and communities, without discontinuing substance use itself.”  But with a focus on drug users, there seems to be no concern for people hurt by the behaviour of drug users – for example friends and family members or victims… Read complete articleInternational Harm Reduction Day – 7 May

Cobourg asks Province to comply with By-Laws at Brookside

The encampment at Brookside seems to be growing with cars, boats and trailers now parked alongside the tents and the Province has done nothing to enforce Cobourg’s by-laws on the property.  But now, Mayor Cleveland has written to the Province asking that “they take the necessary steps to become compliant with all municipal by-laws and regulations within the jurisdiction of the Town of Cobourg for the property at 390 King Street East, the former Brookside Youth Centre Property.”  According to an announcement from the Town, the Letter from Mayor Cleveland “addresses the health and safety of the property, lack of maintenance and adherence to community standards.”  The announcement explains the legal reasons that mean that Cobourg’s “Municipal Law Enforcement Department… Read complete articleCobourg asks Province to comply with By-Laws at Brookside

Council Asked to Apologize

At the Strategic Priorities and Policy Standing Committee meeting on April 2, there was a long discussion on the Community Grants process.  Towards the end of debate, Mayor Cleveland moved an amendment to a motion which would deny any grants to “either Green Wood Coalition or Moms Stop the Harm for the remainder of this term of Council.”  The amendment was supported by Councillors Mutton and Darling but not by other Councillors so it failed. Further, after the main motion passed without this amendment, Miriam spoke passionately about the issue. She said that these organizations “harm people”.  At tonight’s Council meeting, Missy McLean presented on behalf of Moms Stop the Harm and described the goals of that organization which she… Read complete articleCouncil Asked to Apologize

Progress on Transition House Agreement

Sometimes, not much happens at Council meetings – an example was last night’s. Arguably, the only item taxpayers would care about was an update on negotiations about the new Transition House location – 310 Division. As reported previously, the intent is to end up with a three way agreement between Transition House, the County and the Town and a draft agreement was provided that went a long way towards what was wanted. Written by County CAO Jennifer Moore, and reflecting her discussions with the Town’s CAO Tracey Vaughan, there were two contentious points beyond Tracey’s responsibility: 1) A request to repeal the recently passed licensing by-law and 2) the agreement would terminate “if the Town makes efforts to regulate shelters… Read complete articleProgress on Transition House Agreement

Provincial Grant for Transition House.

At a special County Council meeting to authorize acceptance of a Provincial grant for $2,469,500, Warden and Brighton Mayor Brian Ostrander asked if the money was to be used to clean people out of the encampment. The answer is NO. The money is for capital costs to support conversion of the 310 Division property: that is, for upgrades and renovations. It is not to be used for purchase of the property – this was funded by County reserves. In any case, clearing the encampment is outside County jurisdiction. However, Rebecca Carman, Associate Director of Housing & Homelessness said that it is hoped that the 310 Division Street project would (this is my paraphrasing) be more attractive to folks currently unhoused… Read complete articleProvincial Grant for Transition House.