Tag Archives: Waterloo Regional Council

Region opts for wait and see approach for Erb’s Road outdoor shelter closure

The debate over the future of the outdoor shelter at 1001 Erb’s Road was reignited at the Region of Waterloo Community and Health Services Committee on January 16.

The Region must either find a solution to the wastewater management problem at the site or move the shelter altogether before April 2025. While some councillors wanted staff to begin to work on a wind down plan, others thought it could wait.

The site, at 1001 Erb’s Rd, sits beside the landfill just west of the Wilmot line, making it primarily a concern for Wilmot Township.

Councillor and Wilmot mayor Natasha Salonen’s motion was a response to the admission at the November 7 Community and Health Services Committee meeting in which regional staff told council there was no plan in place for the shelter to draw to a close. Regardless, Councillor Salonen’s motion was defeated.

CKMS News -2024-01-17- Counseling program for survivors of sexual assault seeks public funding as demand exceeds government support.

2024-01-17 – Counseling program for survivors of sexual assault seeks public funding as demand exceeds government support

by; dan kellar

Ongoing disagreements between the regional and provincial government for responsibility in funding the programs which support survivors of sexual assault and gender based violence have left many of those progams chronically underfunded. In Waterloo Region, this underfunding leaves the providers of those programs pleading for donations from local residents.

In November 2023, the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region announced they had received a “transformative” donation of 250,000$ from Waterloo based millionaires Bob and Judy Astley. SASC has said the donation will “go towards a much-needed expansion of SASC’s Individual Counseling Program, which has seen unprecedented service requests in recent years.”  There are over 200 survivors on the counseling waiting list.

This show features interviews with Sara Casselman, the executive director of SASCWR, and regional councilor for Cambridge Pam Wolf. The show also includes comments provided to CKMS News by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services.

 

Housing advocacy organization questions denial of funding by Region of Waterloo

Delegates representing housing advocacy organization A Better Tent City (ABTC) went to Region of Waterloo (ROW) council on Wednesday, November 7, asking for urgent help. The group was appealing a decision by the ROW housing department that determined ABTC did not fit the criteria for ROW funding.

ABTC has not yet received an explanation as to why it did not meet the criteria, and department officials have agreed to meet with the members of ABTC to explain later this month. Without additional and prompt financial support, the delegates warned, the project will not be able to continue.

The delegation included Jeff Willmer, Laura Hamilton, Marion Thomson Howell and Father Toby Collins. ABTC had asked for $236,000 under ROW housing provider funding scheme. This money would provide for dedicated staff to actively support residents to further stabilize their lives and obtain permanent housing.

Laura Hamilton described how the group began as a crisis response to unsafe living conditions and how it transitioned from an illegal unsanctioned encampment to a registered charity with community partners and over 100 volunteers.  Despite these achievements, Marion Thomson Howell noted how demand is increasing, “One year ago today, we had approximately 65 people who came around on a regular basis looking for support. As of Thursday of last week, we had 96 and that number grows daily.”

When ROW Chair Karen Redman asked about volunteers, Hamilton described typical tasks and the increasing demands on volunteers. She also described how much of the success of ABTC comes down to one woman, Nadine Greene, and why that is problematic because it leads burnout for the volunteer and excessive dependence on one person, which is not good for the organization in the long run.

Councillor Berry Vrbanovic asked, beyond finances, what the main challenges for the group are and what supports are needed to confront these challenges. Father Collins answered by characterizing the struggles of the people who rely on ABTC are facing. He noted the people they take in are extremely unstable and they need to be stable before they can start to move beyond their struggles.

Councillors Rob Deutschmann and Chantal Huinink tried to understand why ABTC didn’t meet the Region’s criteria while Councillor Colleen James asked how they are funded, if there is any government support, and more about the request for additional staff. Father Collins explained the organization’s revenue streams, the financial short fall, and need for staff.

Council noted the excellent work ABTC is doing, but, and while they understood why the group had made the request, some councillors were unsure how to interpret the performance measures. Councillor Craig asked about turnover – or how many people move on into permanent housing — on average per year. Thomson Howell, Hamilton and Father Collins reiterated their approach, highlighting that they don’t have dedicated staff to help people move on to other housing, and that was why they had come to council.

Councillor Jan Ligget returned to the turnover number and expressed concern over what seemed like a low performance indicator. She asked the group to clarify how they will improve their scores. Delegates explained how they can increase transitions with the additional  staff and when waiting lists for affordable housing are reduced.

No motions were put in place regarding A Better Tent City. The next Community and Health Services meeting on December 6.

 

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