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Dear Editor,

I am the local poet referred to in Councillor Tamming’s opinion piece, “Of boxes, frustration and homelessness”. I feel I should respond to his comments about last Monday’s Council meeting.

Councillor Tamming has been a great supporter of the arts in this city

This was a benefit to me personally as a former Poet Laureate. He has also contributed many good ideas during his one term on Council.

In this article, however, I strongly disagree with his portrayal of the efforts of local residents to seek better ways to help all of us address critical issues of affordable housing and homelessness.

Speaking for myself, I did not show up at Council with an angry attitude, as suggested by Councillor Tamming. I did, however, become very frustrated when my simple question to Council was summarily dismissed as out of order by the Mayor, on the basis that I made mention of the upcoming municipal elections.

I did eventually get to ask my question, after a difficult set of exchanges with the Mayor. More than once I acknowledged the ongoing efforts to combat homelessness already being practiced by various levels of government, efforts cited by Councillor Tamming in his article.

As a former librarian who served as a union officer for many years in Canada’s largest public library union, I am not unfamiliar with the rough and tumble debates that can occur at City Council meetings.

I do not, however, think that residents should have to endure a verbal tussle with the Mayor in order to ask a straight-forward question during a question period that exists for just this reason.

To then be portrayed in the media by a member of Council as an angry resident inconsiderate of fellow taxpayers, as Councillor Tamming seems to imply in this article, is doubly disappointing to me.

I wish Councillor Tamming had instead addressed his concerns to me while I was standing at the microphone asking my question, where I could have responded to his concerns. I am very sorry that he chose not to do so.

I attended Monday’s meeting hoping to find allies on Council willing to support a local plan to help alleviate a growing social problem that affects many Owen Sound residents.

That remains my desire.

Rob Rollfe, Owen Sound


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