We have a crisis underway related to substance use disorder and mental illness. More people are dying, and police, paramedics, and fire fighters are responding to more and more calls relating to opioid overdoses.
The crisis is mostly spoken and written about as it relates to our downtown, but the challenges can be seen throughout our city, in private homes as well.
Our city has many groups, professionals and service providers with the expertise and knowledge to formulate a better move forward plan.
We need a plan that is compassionate to victims, fair to residents (including other vulnerable groups who may live nearby) and that will aid businesses such as those in our downtown core that are directly impacted.
As mayor I will establish an advisory committee immediately upon taking office. At the table will be representatives from charitable organisations, supportive service agencies, Police, Fire, EMS, RVH and the SMDHU. The group will be tasked with developing specific and actionable tactics to be brought forward for consideration in the 2023 budget.
I will also immediately engage with the Provincial government to authorise the City of Barrie to plan, manage and implement strategies to better care for our homeless. Perhaps we can be the site of a pilot project that will help those struggling with addictions in their own safe space, supported with not just safe consumption but wrap-around supports to help them recover.
We must stop implementing strategies that are temporary, ad-hoc, or emergency like in nature. I point to the recent use of hotels as an example of being reactive as opposed to proactive. We need a better plan.
I will lead a dedicated effort to create/find suitable transitional and supportive housing by advocating at the provincial and federal government levels to obtain the funding we need to dramatically impact homelessness in our city.
I believe that when we work together, we are better.