Last Updated on November 21, 2021 by Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Council narrowly approved a sleeping cabins community initiative that saw debate spill from Tuesday to Wednesday night.
The pilot project passed 7-5 on Wednesday night, with councillors Osanic, Oosterhoff, Chapelle, Hill and Stroud in dissent.
The project, along with a warming center, will be supported projects for this winter instead of housing individuals in hotel and motel rooms.
Council heard from several delegations on Tuesday night, with some adjacent residents raising concern with the location and lack of community consultation, while others recognized an urgent need for action as winter fast approaches.
The city will provide $257,000 for the purchase of two the ten cabins and to support the project’s organizer, Our Livable Solutions.
Chrystal Wilson, an organizing member with Our Livable Solutions, has said local churches and other community partners have shown interest for months in helping to make this project a reality and to build the remaining cabins.
The city will work with Our Livable Solutions and Portsmouth residents to operate the cabins at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour from December 2021 to April 2022.
As part of Wednesday’s reconvening, council also approved an amendment tabled by Councillor Hutchison which would see a review of the Integrated Care Hub.
Mayor Paterson vocally threw his support behind a proposal that would see $250,000 in city support to the ICH for the next three years, attributing much of Kingston’s unprecedented ability to decrease opioid deaths this past year to the outreach program.
“In 2020, Kingston was the only community in Ontario where their rate of opioid deaths went down,” Paterson said.
“So, I’m quite sure that the ICH had something to do with that.”
Some councillors staunchly disagreed with funding the ICH, saying it should be covered by provincial funding and not taxpayer money but were overruled without a concrete backup plan in place.
Some advocates say despite the initiatives approved on Wednesday night, council is not doing enough.
The General Secretary of the Katarokwi Union of Tenants, Ivan Stoiljkovic, penned a letter on Thursday saying the initiatives passed should come alongside a motel and hotel plan, rather than choosing between them.
Stoiljkovic says in the letter that “there is money for all these things”, and says the city should force developers to “give up a percentage of their units to the state for the purpose of housing the homeless and precariously housed in social, public and rent-geared-to-income units right now.”
Council also approved $300,000 for the operation of a warming and counseling center this winter.