Thunder Bay – Local News – The group Not One More Death is planning action on efforts by the City of Thunder Bay to fence in private property at County Fair Mall to effectively remove a homeless encampment. The group states on their Facebook page: “The city has announced that they will be sending in the police to remove people and their makeshift shelters from the abandoned gas bar at County Fair and erecting a fence around it to keep people away. These people will not be provided with alternative housing and will simply be pushed into the woods next to the Plaza for the comfort of business owners. They have cited unsanitary conditions which could be solved with a port-a-potty rental but have chosen instead to move the issue out of sight and out of mind.”
Not One More Death has a list of demands for the City of Thunder Bay as well.
The group demands that the City of Thunder Bay immediately take the following actions:
1. Provide Toilet Facilities – The city of Thunder Bay must provide accessible toilet and sanitary facilities in areas that people choose to gather and shelter throughout the city. These must be cleaned daily and maintained in excellent condition.
2. Provide Garbage Disposal Resources – Ensure that there are garbage collection bins available in areas where people choose to shelter and ensure that there are additional bags available for use. Ensure that garbage bins and bags are collected daily.
3. Provide Safe Needle Disposal – In order to ensure harm reduction and safety for all a needle disposal bin must be installed and maintained.
4. Provide Shelter – Re-allocate police funding toward establishing wet shelter spaces along with transitional and affordable housing. Ensure that there are shelter spaces at the site (large tents or hard sided shelters) for people to gather, offering protection from wind, rain and sun. Provide seating and tables (picnic tables). These spaces must be free from harassment from police and security personnel and not surveilled by other means (e.g. surveillance cameras)
5. Provide Fresh Water – Ensure that a sufficient supply of fresh, safe water is available at shelter and toilet facilities.
The City announced the decision to move the makeshift encampment last week.
Councillor-at-Large Aldo Ruberto has posted on his Facebook:
The city has several shelters for people to go to. When these shelters are full. Hotel spaces are provided. The shelters however have rules of non violence, no abuse towards others , and some have rules about not being intoxicated or high when attending.
We would love to have enough affordable housing but we need dollars to do that and the help of all surrounding communities. Also some people will not stay in shelters for various reasons.
Yes , we know we need housing! Yes, we know we need more addiction beds! Yes, we know we need more detox centers etc. We have been fighting for years for funding. It is slowly coming because every city has its issues. And it is political! I should mention we are getting help but it’s not fast enough and the need is huge.
Tiny homes may be an answer? This will come before council on October 18. We will hopefully start with 6 places as a pilot project. It will take time to actually have enough permanent accommodations for all our homeless. Last count was approximately 475 people. We have another count coming up Oct 2, 3 . If you’re interested in helping contact the lakehead social planning council (LSPC ).
There have been many agencies working with this group and others providing food, water and health care. It is for the safety and health of these individuals that they are being removed.
If you would like to help ? Please donate or volunteer at any emergency shelter, Salvation Army, Grace Place, PACE, John Howard, Faye Peterson, to mention a few places. Also if you have spare room at your place please reach out and see what you can do to help? Criticism without knowing the full story is unwarranted.
All kinds of agencies, Indigenous and non-Indigenous are doing all they can to help support marginalized and homeless people. Step up and help if you believe you can do better.