Less than a week ago, I created an open letter that was trying to address what I believe to be a very serious issue. The overwhelming reaction has been positive and the letter resonated with a vast majority. That problem was that the shelters in my immediate area make it very difficult to be good neighbors and I was simply trying to point out the issues with having 3 shelters in such close proximity and their impact on residents and businesses. Some people misconstrued what I wrote as somehow being in favor of the destruction of Shelters or even a direct challenge to homelessness. Nothing could be further from the truth – I believe deeply in providing a hand out and up to those in need. In fact, the point of this whole thing is to find better solutions that challenge the existing model and many were presented in comments. It is my understanding that cities like Zurich and Helsinki use pod-based systems to help those in need get the help they need and reintegrate into the community with great success. Reintegration and help with a person’s problems happens in a more bespoke style and is based on the understanding of a problem when you have a high concentration of individuals in one area or shelter that the lowest common denominator, (pushers, career criminals) can take advantage of those on the fringe. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Ottawa led the world and was known as a model for best practices?
On another note the BIA in my area feels that I have painted the Byward Market in a bad light, which is and was the exact opposite of my goal. I love and live here and wanted to highlight what I think are some very intense issues for the area. However, I respect their opinion and will work with them and other stakeholders.
Today, I was informed that our business would be picketed if we did not remove the website. The problem on my corner is difficult enough without having that worry.
I am not an activist and am apolitical. I have been contacted by many media and in the first few days was considering a radio interview but over the past few days feel that would simply make what is already an intense issue worse.
I appreciated Mr. Tilley’s offer and will directly contact him today with an offer to meet privately for coffee to begin a dialogue in search of solutions.
Thank you to everyone for the tremendous support and validation of this issue.