Our colleagues at the John Howard Society of Simcoe & Muskoka has released a statement of their opposition to the Bylaw amendments. (Shared with permission.)
Dear Barrie City Council,
We are writing to express our utmost opposition to the motion passed on May 17th and the subsequent by-law amendments (Bill No. 067 and Bill No. 068) that are set to be passed June 21st, 2023. These proposed by-law changes are discriminatory at face value, and intentionally harmful at their core. While branded as a helpful solution to homelessness in Barrie, these bylaw changes will only further criminalize the homeless and vulnerable individuals in our city.
As Mayor Alex Nuttall said, “Having a roof, heat, running water and food is the starting point and then the shelter system can connect people with the services and support they need” . With shelters being at or over capacity and the cost-of-living inflating, how is taking away someone’s access to a tent the most effective means of achieving this? By prohibiting the distribution of tents, food, or groceries in public spaces this by-law will extremely hinder, if not halt outreach services in Barrie. Our community depends on access to these outreach services to survive.
Passing this motion is a blatant attempt to force individuals experiencing homelessness out of Barrie instead of providing our most vulnerable the supports they need. This by-law is not only ineffective at making Barrie “safe” but is also discriminatory against people who are faced with generational trauma, mental illness, chronic homelessness, over criminalization and poverty on a daily basis. “Municipalities have to consider the needs of everyone - including people with disabilities or on social assistance - when making bylaws” . Barrie City Council did not consider the true needs of all its citizens when voting on May 17th and instead bowed to the fear mongering and misinformation brought forward by uninformed politicians.
We at the John Howard Society of Simcoe & Muskoka are committed to our mission which is effective, just, and humane responses to crime and its causes. We are committed to having a voice for our community and houseless neighbours who have been repeatedly silenced, pushed to the outskirts of our society, and continually criminalized for their survival. Time and again, our societal institutions are failing the people they have promised to help. We respectfully request that you cease your war on homelessness and instead provide the many social service agencies in our city the proper resources to conduct our work and compassionate care of our community.
John Howard Society of Simcoe & Muskoka
80 Bradford St, Suite 228, Barrie Ont.
17 Colborne St. E. Suite 109, Orillia Ont.