2022 City Election


LivingRough OwenSoundCItyHall

I have just sent an email off to all 14 candidates running for council in Owen Sound.
I welcome you all to do the same to bring change to what was once a beautiful city full of life. The homeless, addiction, mental health crisis is getting worse each day and there needs to be an ending of this in sight.
This is my open letter:

Hello everyone my name is Andrea Donaldson and I’m a former resident of Owen Sound but I continue to be an advocate for addictions and mental health in Owen Sound from PEI.

I ended up on my own at the age of 17 when my Mother passed away in 2000. At the time of her death I was already struggling with mental health and addiction. I started experimenting at the age of 12 but by high school I was already hooked. At age 16 I fully dropped out of high school to take care of my Mother who was very sick with heart problems. I was using drugs and alcohol to help cope with being just a kid and taking care of my Mother with bathing, driving her to appointments , cooking, cleaning, etc. and trying to still have time to be with my friends and such.

When my Mother passed away I went off the deep end. I had nobody to help me navigate my young self through life into adulthood. There was no help for me then and nothing much has changed in those 22 years since, it’s worse.

By 18 i had started to accumulate criminal charges because of my addictions and mental health. I spent many nights on the streets in Owen Sound over the years as well as various other places in Canada.

When somebody is living on the streets they have no motivation to attend meetings, appointments, etc because at the end of the day nothing has changed and they are still laying their head on a garbage bag of clothes and hunger pains in their belly. Living unhoused gives you no sense of self care or love, you feel worthless and unloved most days. A lot of time unhoused people are in the situations they are in because they have fallen through the cracks of a broken system. This needs to change.
I’m not the only kid who’s fallen through those cracks over the years and today I’m watching my friends' kids do the same. We are supposed to protect and love our children not let them suffer in silence.

With a housing first program it wouldn’t just benefit the unhoused it would benefit the community as a whole. People wouldn’t be scared to walk in the downtown core and local businesses would see more customers and tourists. The unhoused would be more wiling and able to attend appointments and go on job searches to help better their futures. Could you get up for work each day after sleeping on hard cement or a damp cardboard box with nothing to eat and not even a shower?

When you give a person shelter and food and they are able to tend to their hygiene they become different people, they now feel some purpose that it wasn’t all for nothing and better things are ahead. You take that from a person and you have nothing but an empty shell of a person just trying to survive each day.

I’ve looked at www.OwenSoundTaxes.com and see that Owen Sound does have its challenges. However I’ve also noticed that there has never been a problem finding money for feasibility studies or to fund large budget increases like what occurred this year for Transit. Helping those living on the street whether due to mental health or addiction is something that Owen Sound residents expect from their city. Funding a one year trial for a Housing First program is something that Owen Sound can easily afford by relocating over budgeted funds.

I hope this crisis will be taken seriously and words are put into action.

Andrea Donaldson

photo: David Galway, taken outside Owen Sound city hall, Sept 9, 2022



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