Updated: Aug 23, 2022
Some great work by Councillors Aylwin and N.Harris to amend the highly problematic "Panhandling and Criminal Activity" motion. Staff standing up to Councillor nonsense. A great example of public engagement. And a recommendation to support fully accessible washrooms in newly-built City facilities (which leads us to wonder why this policy wasn't already in place?).
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/LXraIc7_Y9g
Engage's Summary: https://www.engagebarrie.org/post/city-council-monday-june-6-7pm
Criminalization of Poverty
Sarah Tilley from the Gilbert Centre, Mary Anne Denny-Lusk from Barrie Housing and Chair of SCATEH's Barrie chapter, and Suzanna McCarthy from the John Howard Society all gave strong and informed expert deputations regarding the "Panhandling and Criminal Activity" motion – expertise that, sadly, went mostly ignored by Council, especially in regards to the serious concerns with paragraphs 1-3 of the motion. As noted in our Council Preview for the meeting:
Items 1-3 continue to put police in the lead of working with those experiencing mental health crisis, addiction and homelessness, which is unacceptable – making this a police issue continues to criminalize people experiencing these crises, instead of helping them access the resources they need
Item 2 seems to be setting up an even bigger "ask" for the Police Budget next year, instead of allocating these funds to the organizations that can deal with the root causes of mental health crisis, addiction and homelessness.
Item 3, as Ward stated last week, runs the risk of it appearing as if the City is asking the OPP to evict the encampments near the highway.
Item 4 is problematic, as it continues the trope of blaming the City's poverty and homelessness issues on prison discharges. The request for the Province to make increased investment in resourcing social service agencies is a good one, don't get us wrong – but the trope and the item as a whole fails to understand that not everyone experiencing poverty and homelessness in Barrie has been discharged from one of these institutions.
Items 5 & 6 – the correspondence to the Provincial and Federal Governments – are both excellent "asks", and we agree that these governments should be pressured to do more in these areas, especially raising social assistance rates above the poverty line. Our concern is that these requests once again seem to kick the can up the hill, instead of taking concrete action on a municipal level as well.
Councillors Aylwin and N.Harris were successful in introducing two amendments. The first was to make the problematic item 3 less dangerous to homeless residents – instead of asking the OPP "to continue their efforts", it was amended that OPP instead be requested "to connect with outreach workers in Barrie to follow up with the needs of citizens staying within encampments along the Highway 400 ramps in order to address safety concerns as they arise, and that a compassionate approach be taken in supporting people in these areas. Disappointingly, Councillor Morales voted AGAINST this amendment. The second amendment was an additional paragraph, asking the Operations Department to investigate adding waste collection bins and/or zones near the encampments, in consultation with SCATEH and Enforcement Services – which would help to solve one of the biggest concerns about the encampments.
Tenant Water Billing
The Tenant Water Billing motion was passed down the line to the next term of Council – an amendment by Harvey & McCann was carried to have the Finance Department include any proposed changes as part of the 2023 budget process.
Also of note, the new BIA governance has now been approved. The extension of the Needle Collection Kiosk Pilot Program was confirmed. And the "Announcements" period was mis-used by McCann to defend his fundraising for the "Heart Barrie" sign.
Staff Standing Up
A shout-out goes to General Manager, Community & Corporate Services Dawn McAlpine (or "Unfiltered McAlpine", as named by the mayor) pushing back on McCann's attempts to passive-aggressively block Aylwin/N.Harris's second amendment regarding waste collection bins. Including such gems as:
"In my view, there is rarely a negative to investigating and obtaining more information, unless Council has no intent to move forward, and is only asking for an investigation to delay a matter."
"Correct, unless Council is only asking for an investigation to avoid making a decision."
"If Council truly wants to investigate a matter and wants the information before making a decision, it's always best to be fully informed. If Council has already made up its mind, there is no point in asking for an investigation."
Speaking truth to power always gets our attention – but calling out nonsense investigations that are simply passive-aggressive attempts to block actual decisions has us dancing in our seats. Kudos to GM McAlpine.
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/b11fp2lNEAQ
Engage's Summary: https://www.engagebarrie.org/post/planning-committee-tuesday-june-7-7pm
Three public meetings – one for 320 Bayfield Street (no public comments), one for a potential Sobeys at 651-673 Mapleview Dr. E. (also no public comments), and one for 19 Dundonald Street, which had a whopping 18 members of the public speaking, as well as 50 pieces of correspondence. Talk about public engagement – nice work, everyone!
Approved: a zoning bylaw amendment for 520 & 526 Big Bay Point Road, and for 157 Ardagh Road. The Draft Plan of Subdivision Extension Policy was also approved.
Active Transportation and Sustainability Advisory Committee
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/54K4p4DgB9k
A recommendation to bring to General Committee, to investigate yard signage and online educational materials to promote and designate natural gardens and boulevard gardens. And to investigate an amendment to the Yard Maintenance Bylaw to allow residents to participate in "No Mow May".
International Relations Committee
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/k8yEA0nqI-k
City Building Committee
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/rvEzlCyEwi8
Heritage Barrie Committee
Meeting cancelled due to no quorum
Accessibility Advisory Committee
Watch again: https://youtu.be/-_2vpfi2Gyc
Recommendation to support fully accessible washrooms in newly-built City facilities.