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Candidates for Council,

It was announced yesterday that the city of Charlottetown, PEI will house its homeless this winter in modular sleeping units. You can read a number of articles on this initiative aimed at providing the homeless with a warm bed during the winter months at this link. Click Here

From what I can gather from these articles, each module costs about $30,000 and houses 4 or 5 beds. I know that the majority council members believe that Owen Sound’s homeless are the County’s problem. However, this is an opportunity for Owen Sound to be a leader among County municipalities.

Council has never been hesitant in the past to spend our tax dollars on services that are not at all highly valued by most of the community. Homelessness, however, is an issue that is on the minds of the many residents. This year Council approved a $500,000 budget increase for Transit. We now know that this increase, which was responsible for much of this year’s tax increase, was largely unnecessary. The contract price did not increase as anticipated and ridership is up so the budgeted 50% reduction the farebox is unlikely to materialize.

Similarly, Council approved a 77% increase the Art Gallery budget over the last 5 year. As a result, we now spend $220,482 more each year on the Art Gallery than we did in 2018. In addition, Council approved two Art Gallery studies aimed at providing the gallery with a new $30 million building. Interestingly, the cost of these studies, $30,000, is pretty much the same as cost of one of these modular units that potentially could save a life this winter.

The community survey indicated that both Transit and the Art Gallery were services that were valued by less than 8% of residents. Yes Richard, we do measure “value” by the number of people who walk through the door. In contrast "affordable housing, cost of living, and homelessness" was identified as the number one issue facing Owen Sound today.

To current councilors: I challenge you to put a motion before Council to direct staff to investigate, source and procure at least one modular unit to provide winter relief for a few of Owen Sound’s homeless this winter.

To Candidates for council: I challenge you to show up at council meetings and share your views on this homeless initiative.

Jim Hutton

(The modular housing unit pictured is currently being stored in Owen Sound - its destination is another municipality.)




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