Durham Region lawsuit an attempt at ‘bullying’ Brock Township

An open letter to Durham Region:

As an individual, concerned and frustrated resident of Beaverton (Bvtn) I am once again contacting you all regarding Durham Region’s (DR) proposal for a large supportive housing project in our town and to put real facts on the public record once again for ongoing reference by all.

These comments are compiled after listening to the Sept. 29 regional council (RC) meeting, and learning just this evening that DR has now launched a lawsuit against our Brock Township surrounding this issue.

Many of the points below are not new to DR, but I ask once again that you actually read, consider and answer the following simple points, which to date you have chosen to ignore and not respond to. Surely DR has a fiduciary duty to answer concerned citizens’ questions in some reasonable manner. We look forward to that expected courtesy.

1. First and foremost; I repeat once again that; despite (Oshawa) Mayor (Dan) Carter’s and others’ best efforts to paint Bvtn residents as NIMBYs; we are certainly not NIMBYs. We are simply trying to bring some common sense research, planning, consultation and efficient execution to any proposed supportive housing project within Brock.
We have repeated our non NIMBY position to DR several times, and yet as recently as Sept 29 Mayor Carter inferred that label once again about Bvtn by stating during the RC session that “no community has the right to throw up their hands and not help with the homelessness/addiction problems”; or some such sneaky lecturing statement, clearly inferring that NIMBYism is the root cause of Bvtn residents’ concerns. Carter et al are completely wrong and purposely misleading for the Region’s own self serving purposes.
Bvtn residents do support supportive housing, but only well researched, properly sized, suitably staffed facilities, in appropriate host communities; not facilities of overwhelming size, in an already under supported community, far from necessary clinical services, and with no reasonable expectations for success for any stakeholders!

2. The proposed 47 bed facility’s size is unprecedented for a small, rural, under serviced town like Bvtn. and is much better suited for a south Durham location, in a much higher population area, where dozens of homeless are already in daily need, with a myriad of necessary support services more readily at hand.

3. A facility of this specialized nature will simply overwhelm a small rural town like Bvtn where all types of required services are already non-existent or in extremely short supply.

4. Concerned Bvtn residents have brought professional planning and mental health experts to the DR Health and Social Services Committee and RC tables, and are participating with the Region’s community liaison committee, to help confirm the unsuitability of the presently proposed facility in terms of size, geographic location and lack of detailed clinical support planning and funding, with no detailed response or willingness to discuss potential, doable alternatives by DR. Why not; isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work?

5. I have asked DR in previous correspondence to consider small clusters of Micro Home supportive housing sites for the three North Durham townships — Brock, Uxbridge and Scugog — and place the much larger facility in a more suitable, south Durham location. But you insist on proceeding with an exactly opposite approach. Why is that? Not even any discussion or properly researched rationale provided to us?

6. Was the Cannington-based trial and error Allan’s Place experiment by DR not enough of a learning experience for DR wrt insufficient support services pre-planning and implementation for very needy homeless housing tenants?

7. On Sept 29 at the RC meeting, Brock Regional Councillor Smith was told…that tenants of the proposed facility will participate in addiction and mental health programming, when we have been previously advised that tenants will have the personal right to decline treatment and programming steps. What’s the factual truth on this subject; a simple answer please; I expect the latter actually applies.

8. We keep hearing about wrap-around, on-site support services, but never has there been any detailed planning, budgeting or sharing of same with us. Provincial feedback is that there is no provincial budgeting commitment for any such services. Once again, what’s the real truth on this subject?

9. DR’s refusal to listen to our community regarding possible alternatives has, in part, forced Brock council into costly legal steps over the past year, when those taxpayers’ dollars could be better assigned to Brock’s social issues, including homelessness.

10. DR has now launched a costly lawsuit against Brock Township which will only increase Brock residents’ costs to bring common sense to the housing project table, rather than through cooperative consultation with DR as requested many times by Brock residents.
We view this latest move as nothing less than Big Brother bullying by DR, while using our own money to both prosecute and defend our fair and informed position. It is clearly DR who is driving both sides of these cost increases. DR is actually suing one of its own “family” members; as both a bullying move and a scare tactic. Is this really how the regional government should work? I’ve never heard of this tactic before.

11. If DR continues on its present path; despite plenty of professional advice to the contrary; and actually warehouses 47 struggling people in a poorly conceived, ill-informed, under served facility; putting facility tenants, facility staff, and the broader community at risk, with dire consequences for some or many; could the Region not be found professionally. legally and civilly responsible for such neglect and recklessness; and has all of RC been made aware of and accept these possibilities?

12. From a financial perspective, should DR not be returning best value possible for the many millions of taxpayer dollars involved in supportive housing projects through proper research, community consultation and matching needs with appropriately sized facilities, rather than simply “imposing” a wrong sized facility onto a small rural town; and now spending additional taxpayer dollars on costly law firms and court processes to sue the very Durham residents that you have so far refused to listen to and answer adequately? Should the Provincial Auditor General’s office be asked to review the poor value results?

Does all this seem right to Durham Region council members and senior DR staff?

It sure does NOT seem right to thousands of Bvtn/Brock taxpaying residents, who have formally spoken to you in petition form. Please ask yourself why; and provide us with sensible answers we have every reason and right to expect.

Once again awaiting DR’s response, with hoped-for better results than previous similar requests.

Paul Nelson

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