EBO Contributing Member Sarah Tilley attended the September 19 Public Meeting on Council's anti-homeless motion, but her request to speak was ignored by the Chair, Councillor Morales. We invited her to post it here, so at least the public can hear what she had to say.
Sarah Tilley, EBO Contributing Member:
There are many people feeling unsafe. I feel unsafe that if I lose my rental space I will need supports for homelessness. I fear what losing the stability I have created will have on my mental health and the relationships I have curated over the last several years. So I empathize and I have compassion for all people who feel fear. But as a social worker I know that doesn't mean we should allow fear to direct our actions. We shouldn't remove the care we show for one another.
I find it ironic that many of those who spoke tonight about the harms of witnessing drug use and overdoses were the same people who fervently fought against an SCS.
I am disappointed that this meeting has lost focus and moved away from the concerns we have against the proposed bylaws. Specifically those that are attempting to reduce care for community by providing basic necessities without adding deeply affordable housing, mental health supports or harm reduction supports, including safer supply programs and supervised consumption sites.
In addition to looking at this through a human rights lens and leaning on the recommendations of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, I ask that you intentionally create mechanisms for people who are experiencing homelessness to meaningfully engage in creating solutions. Those who are experiencing these problems are best positioned to find meaningful solutions. But this is not an easy or fast solution.
I agree with an earlier deputant who wants to stop having to listen to sirens in the downtown core. But not because they annoy me. They terrify me. Every time I hear an ambulance I wonder if someone I care about has died. If the person who greets me at work every morning will continue to be there tomorrow. This is another thing I fear. And I am tired of being afraid.
Finally, I ask that this be the beginning of your consultation work. We can work to find solutions and to bridge the division we have heard about tonight. But it won't be done quickly. And it won't be done by pushing through bylaws that don't put the lives of people first.
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