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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Letters to the Editor (part eight)

The following are some of my letters to the editor over the past couple years. I have found, since submitting my first many years ago, that this is a means, one widely read, to express an opinion on events in the city and realms further afield. I fully encourage people to write letters to the editors of what some fondly consider our local rags, though don’t be surprised when they appear and are edited by the paper. In one letter I submitted the editor changed one word, eliminated one sentence and totally changed the context of what I was saying.

Re; Panel advocates housing homeless
Finally after years of saying just this, could it really be true, that Housing the Homeless will be a priority. If so the first thing that will have to happen is the will of all agencies and governments dealing with the issue to put aside their own agendas and recognize the agenda of the homeless, that of being housed safely and affordably.
One need recognize the homeless cannot be pigeon holed into any given category. Some are quite capable of living on their own, others may need a little support and still others support on a longer term basis. When we look at the homeless we are looking at men, women, children and families. We are looking at people with varying degrees of mental illness and addiction, those that have been abused and others that are simply unemployed. All have in common the need for safe affordable housing.
Like the different causes of homelessness housing also needs to be comprised of varying types. Shared accommodation will work for some, others may need varying degrees of support but the majority will be living independently. Single family homes can be purchased and converted to shared accommodation or by adding secondary suites to house two families. Purchasing a motel for instant accommodation as well as purpose built 10 to 15 unit buildings are other options. The point is to develop a framework which includes transitional, supportive and independent housing, ensuring that it is affordable to those who will utilize it.
Monies to accomplish this exist and can be added to further by the savings to government by actually housing people. Municipal governments can also add to the pot by requiring developers to contribute land or money to affordable housing plans. Let’s stop talking and do something, let’s house the homeless.

Re: NNC has been touted as a means to alleviate social issues
Since the $100,000 propaganda campaign, during the referendum, the NNC has been touted as a means to alleviate social issues in the downtown core. Most recently this was again brought up at the council meeting of February 12th. During question period I reiterated something I have brought up before, that being just how will the NNC do this. While hoping against hope that I would be hearing how the project would somehow help to combat, increasing homelessness and drug addiction or perchance the severe lack of affordable housing in the community, I was instead lectured by Councillor Brennan about employment opportunities.
There is no denying that a number of jobs have and will be created by the project. The problem as I see it is the construction jobs are primarily low paying labourer positions, which are temporary at best and the jobs created after construction will be predominantly minimum wage service industry, simply replacing jobs that were lost when the original businesses that occupied the site, prior to construction, were demolished. This to me alleviates nothing, least of all social issues.
If Council Brennan et. al. wish to get serious; Tiarc/Suro/Millenium’s failure to come up with financing for the hotel/condo tower has given them a golden opportunity to do so. Firstly, whatever company comes forward to build the hotel/condos should contribute a minimum of 10% of the market value of the Condos towards affordable housing or addiction services for youth, the later being in short supply throughout the province. Secondly, Maffeo Sutton Park properties should not be used as an enticement to developers but should remain, in perpetuity, a part of the park and improved accordingly for every citizen’s, as well as tourists, benefit. There are few enough free venues for those with low incomes to enjoy, our waterfront being one.

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