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Township councillor ‘ashamed’ to live in Durham Region after lawsuit filed

So the Region of Durham has filed court papers against the Township of Brock while we try negotiating with them about the Beaverton supportive housing issue. Here are my thoughts on that — this is exactly why some people say regional government does not work.

While Brock tries to continue to work with the Region on this project through negotiations they file paperwork with the courts.

The contents of the application are another insult to the residents and taxpayers of Brock as well as to our council. The Region accuses us of violating the (Ontario) Human Rights Code and of not caring for people.

Meanwhile, it has been Brock council who have been asking the serious questions about the supports that this project is supposed to have. We have been asking what kind of supports will be in place. We’ve been asking how long they will be there and how their removal will be determined. We’ve been asking just how much of this service will be in person versus telemedicine.

The Region, after over a year, has failed to provide any meaningful answers. So who is it that cares about the health and welfare of the prospective tenants?

The Region’s own consultants (OrgCode) during a Dec. 3, 2020 Health and Social Services Committee meeting told the Region that things like telemedicine is not the excellent level of supports needed for this project to succeed. Did the Region care? No.

At the same meeting, the Region’s own consultants told them that using shared washrooms was not a good idea. Did the Region care? No. It was not until later when the issue was pushed by Brock council that the Region appeared to change it’s mind on things like shared living accommodations and shared washrooms.

What has the Region cared about here? Getting grant money and building this project as fast as possible.

When I asked what the timelines were for issuing RFPs (requests for proposal) for support services there was no idea from the Region. Their consultant says supports must be in place before the people but that does not appear to be the way it’s planned to work.

It’s been members of Brock council that have expressed concerns about the number of people residing at this proposed project that need care and supports and it’s been Brock council members expressing concern that Brock has no hospital. Brock has limited paramedic services. Brock has no permanent police presence. Brock is underserviced by doctors and other medical practitioners.

The Region accuses Brock council of “people zoning” and that we have negotiated in bad faith for “targeting” supportive housing which the Region says “is created for the purposes of accommodating persons with emotional, mental, social or physical conditions who require group living arrangements for their well-being.” I would beg to differ.

In fact, the Region appears to have it very wrong. I think the thing these very people need for their well-being are the proper supports — not necessarily group living arrangements.

These people need mental health assistance. They need addiction assistance. They need medical care that does not come out of a phone line. So it would appear through the Region’s own court filings that they don’t care so much about the levels of support these people receive but simply that they get a roof over their heads.

Well, at least in my opinion, that is not supportive housing. Perhaps it says something about the dedication to supports for these people by the Region. Perhaps the supports at whatever facility is built will go the way of the supports at Allan’s Place in Cannington…closed.

The heavy-handed approach by the Region is nothing new. Remember back to 2004 when the Region wanted to institute regional transit? The Region needed a super-majority of lower-tier municipalities to vote in favour of it. Brock council of the day refused and voted against it and that would have killed it. The Region did not like it and came up to Brock for closed-door meetings.

Following those meetings, another vote took place and regional transit was approved. It was never disclosed what happened but given recent history I would not be surprised if The Region threatened Brock through services, funding and who knows what.

This kind of intimidation, contempt for local governance, and unwillingness to work with supposed “partners” very much spells out how things work in this region.

There are those in the past year who have said we need to work together more as a family. How many family members turn around and launch legal actions against their relatives while supposedly trying to work things out?

It feels more and more like the Region views this family as they are the father of eight inept children (lower-tier municipalities) who must be told what to do and should not think for themselves.

I’ve never been so ashamed of living in Durham Region. I don’t know what’s going on at the higher levels of 605 Rossland Road East in Whitby but it sure as hell stinks and there’s little evidence of working as a “region.”

I’m proud of the residents of Brock. I’m proud of our council standing up for its residents. I believe Brock council is not only acting in the best interest of our Township and its residents but also acting in the best interest of the possible future residents of Brock who will need the supports for their health and safety.

The Region wants us to trust them. Trust. I can’t think of much the Region has done in the last year that would lead me to trust them. In fact, I can’t say I have any trust left at all in the Regional Municipality of Durham.

ADDENDUM:
It’s interesting… Brock is being accused by The Region of Durham for essentially not caring for people and The Region appears to ignore our concerns about how we could care for a proposed tenancy of 50 people requiring supportive housing. Meanwhile, the Mayor of the City of Oshawa recently wrote a letter to Brock asking for help.

In his own words, he states that the City of Oshawa does not have the capacity to care for the 200 or so homeless people in Oshawa. A city of about 170,000 people, with all the services that includes does not have the capacity to care for 200 homeless citizens. That equates to about 0.0011 homeless persons per resident of Oshawa.

If they can’t care for them then that would equate to Beaverton not being able to care for four homeless individuals. But the Region would like Beaverton to care for 12.5 times that many.

If the City of Oshawa can’t provide the supports for 200 of its residents how is the small village of Beaverton and small Township of Brock supposed to care for 50 people desperately needing supports that simply don’t exist and the Region will not explain how those supports will exist?

Walter Schummer
Ward 3 Councillor, Township of Brock

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