An advocacy group in Belleville, Ontario, is calling on that city to do more to help the homeless.
Members of Fifth team not only, a non-profit organization that works to support the homeless and food insecure, organized a rally Monday afternoon.
Monday’s rally drew about 30 people, including several homeless people from Belleville.
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A cool but respectful crowd listened to the organizers, as well as those currently homeless.
“It’s here, it’s real, and unless we do something, it’s still here and it’s still going to be a crisis,” says the founder of the nonprofit, Debbie Lee Pike.
“Accommodation; the warming center: if you are homeless, you must have a place that they can go. Twenty-four hours a day we need something open. It is too cold not to have it, it is too hot in summer not to have it.
“There is no reason why we should not have something open.”
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The Bridge Street United Church Warming Center is only open if temperatures drop to -10 C or below.
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“I’m in church and people pass by in their cars and they look at us like we are garbage,” said a homeless person who identified himself as ‘Mary’.
“The biggest problem: there are no affordable housing, and removing the limitations of the heating center. Make them open every day regardless, like at night, regardless of the temperatures. “
The message from those attending the rally was that the municipality can and must do more.
“This council has money and has the legal power to exercise to put people in warm places tonight,” says Sean McNeill, a member of the Quinte Labor Council.
And that is the demand. Of course they will tell you that this is more complicated and that there are all these obstacles, but when the city wants to achieve something, it overcomes its obstacles and that is what I am asking ”.
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Mayor Mitch Panciuk says the council is doing its best with available resources.
“I think anyone who suggests that we are not doing anything just doesn’t remember,” says Panciuk. “
“We are the first council in Belleville history to bring in an emergency warming center. We are spending literally hundreds of thousands of dollars helping the vulnerable in our community with our social infrastructure funds. And we’ll do more as we go along.
“The challenge? There is always much more we want to do than we have money.”
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