We know there is a problem in our downtown and in other parts of our city with respect to homelessness, and Wednesday’s task team meeting was productive. We discussed how to identify existing service gaps, leverage existing strategies among partner organizations, build organic partnerships and engage with the public.
Our group is applying its resources, expertise and networks to help establish and implement how we take on this problem.
We will be relying on larger and well-established organizations, and their relationships and affiliations with smaller groups, to assist in this effort. Not all of the organizations in our downtown and across the city are aligned, nor do they necessarily work together — part of our work is to break down those silos to be more efficient and assist those who need the help the most.
More information will be available in the near future, but efforts are underway on engaging with community groups, people with lived experiences, business owners and the community-at-large.
That said, a lot has been going on in the background, on the streets and at the council table since the task team was established. Council has recently passed a motion supporting the potential development of more transitional housing and also expanded operating hours at warming shelters in our city. This will allow people to have the dignity of a warm bathroom to use and to bathe. It also saw an increase in 50 more seats for dining and rest away from the elements during the cold winter ahead.
We have also dispatched city staff to address the garbage downtown, and we have an increased police presence with more feet on the street to ensure the safety and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens. We have installed better lighting and have been removing graffiti — we are doing our best to remedy the early symptoms while continuing to address a very complex set of issues. We’ve reacted quickly to implement these items.
There is a lot more to do and we will require the expertise and help of many more organizations that are willing to follow this calling. As a group we are working hard, we are working together and I am proud of what this task team has accomplished so far. I look forward to what we will achieve as we pursue the goal of ending homelessness in Greater Sudbury.
Brian Bigger is the mayor of Greater Sudbury.