Columnist says local official response to crisis of homelessness & addiction inadequate
Opinion by Dave Glover
The politics of fear and hate appear to have found a home in Cobourg.
Empathy and caring is deemed coddling; an attempt to solve the problem of roving bands of addicts lurking in Cobourg that is doomed to failure.
This has become the narrative of our Mayor & certain media pundits.
Everyday local social media is filled with negative imagery & hateful vitriol.
Homelessness doesn’t equate to addiction, but if we’re to believe what we read all, these unhoused folks are just addicts who need to go away.
Everyday, we read and hear they’re coming to Cobourg because they’ve heard we’re a soft touch.
The facts are, most of the people suffering with addiction and homelessness are residents of Northumberland County.
They come from Cramahe, Alnwick-Haldimand, Trent Hill, Grafton and Hamilton Township to join Port Hope & Cobourg residents already here.
We’re not importing unhoused people, we don’t have to.
We may have a few from Oshawa, but the reality is – Cobourg is the Toronto of Northumberland.
The County seat is here and most social services are delivered here.
Local pundits and our MPP happily blame Ottawa and the Prime Minister, but their efforts to deflect local blame do not absolve us of coming up with local solutions.
We need funding for addiction and we need mental health supports. We need social housing and more financial supports for disabled residents.
One has to wonder, what it will take? Why aren’t we setting up encampments on vacant Crown land? Why aren’t we putting the responsibility at the feet of the Provincial Government?
It is the only level of Government that can act immediately.
Mr. Piccini speaks about wrap around services, but where are they?
We need action, not more empty rhetoric and baseless accusations.
Blaming the poor for poverty is a cute trick and one that has been rolled out every time there is problem going back to Poorhouses England. (see: https://www.history.com/news/in-the-19th-century-the-last-place-you-wanted-to-go-was-the-poorhouse).
We have the land available for social housing. We have the resources. We don’t have the political will.
Infrastructure Ontario has said Brookside is available. The Ontario government could sell it to Cobourg for a single dollar but…
Mr. Piccini why aren’t you advocating on our behalf? Why instead have you chosen to vilify the unhoused– residents suffering from addiction and mental health issues?
Maybe, rather than criminalizing these people, we can act for change.
The knowledge and know-how exist. Other communities are responding to the challenge and offering support
What a sad commentary this is about the town that claims it is, “Ontario’s Feel-Good Town” that we’ve let ourselves become convinced that offering support equates to coddling.
I have already had to save one person from an overdose; stepped up while others literally stepped over and around.
That’s not the town I believed us to be…
Am I wrong to believe that offering support while advocating recovery is a wrong approach? The data suggests otherwise.
As for affordable housing, people I know, working in construction say they are not building anything remotely “affordable.”
In the effort to maximize profits, building affordable housing isn’t an option.
This is why both the federal and provincial governments must provide purpose-built public housing.
Because Cobourg is the County Seat we can count on more people coming. But Cobourg has a good option at hand – we have serviceable land.
Unfortunately, Mayor Lucas Cleveland and MPP David Piccini have shown the political will is seriously lacking.
If we want to get people off the streets, we need to find accommodation.
It we can’t find it, we have to build it.
If we want to solve the opioid crisis, we’ll have to pay for it.
Pointing fingers and spewing vitriolic hate is not a solution.
Dave Glover is a well known cultural and political commentator in Northumberland. Thousands of listeners, both locally and worldwide, know Dave because of his “Drive Time” radio broadcast that ran for more than 8 years and his 15 years hosting political programs on a local cable channel.
Listen to/Contact Dave