Lately, I have been reading the latest news and watching videos produced about the homeless crisis in Peterborough, Ontario. That we are experiencing this problem is a sad commentary on our society as a whole. We are not caring for our neighbours.
Recently, the Warming Room shut down because it lost its location at Murray Street Baptist Church. Some in our area have demonised the church for its closing forgetting that, during the last few years, this church was the only organisation that would allow the Warming Room to use its facilities. Any building will require maintenance; especially one not designed to handle the load imposed by constant overnight use.
Some have complained that Warming Room Community Ministries (WRCM) did not do enough to find a replacement site. That is false. There has been a concerted effort for many months to find a suitable permanent site for the Warming Room, without help from the city.
It seems that the City of Peterborough, publicly represented by Keith Riel and the Social Services Department, is playing politics with the homeless situation in Peterborough. Clearly, they have developed a dislike for WRCM and, for some unknown reason, seem to be
Now we find that the city may reopen bidding for the One Roof Diner. Why is that happening? What has WRCM done wrong? Does the city have someone among their friends who
(2019-07-28: I received some new information this morning indicating that, under the city’s rules of procurement, the contract for the One Roof Diner would have to be revisited next year anyway. This still begs the question of why Mr. Riel thinks it appropriate to sound so threatening about it at this time.)
WRCM has done wonderful things for the poor and homeless in Peterborough in recent years, providing a place to stay at night and in excess of 8,000 meals a month to those in need. No other organisation in Peterborough has demonstrated the willingness or ability to do so. When providing these services, WRCM has treated each person with dignity and has tried to help them improve their life. Unlike other places, there are no searches, demeaning rules, or curfews that reduce whatever dignity people may have left.
The current tent cities that have raised the ire of so many local residents, and the sudden attention of candidates Monsef and Skinner, as well as MPP Smith, are clear evidence of the success of WRCM and the failure of local, provincial, and federal agencies to address the plight of the homeless in Peterborough and elsewhere. WRCM has been the fortress that has helped these people and minimised the indignities that now plague them in Peterborough. Now that this barrier has been breached and the problem has a public face, these current and prospective politicians are trying to score points by claiming a desire to address the problem. Perhaps one of them will follow through with their promises. In the meantime, helping WRCM to find a permanent place to go is the immediate best solution, not playing games for personal or political gain on the part of politicians and bureaucrats.
The city must cease this apparent vendetta and concentrate on helping capable organisations do what they do best. WRCM is the best at the provision of its services and should be helped, not demonised. I call upon the City of Peterborough to put aside its petulance and act in the best interests of the people of Peterborough as a whole, not just those who can afford a nice place to live.