No quick solution to homeless camp in downtown St. Thomas
Published Tuesday, August 6, 2019 5:23PM EDT
A homeless camp just steps away from the main strip in St. Thomas is causing problems for neighbouring businesses.
"We've had break-ins, the copper stolen from our HVAC," says CTP Computers owner Sandy Vazquez.
"We've had peeing and defecating in and around the businesses. People causing hassles to pedestrians, cat calling, and things that make people insecure to walk by or go to our business."
The camp is set up right behind the Psychiatric Survivors Network of Elgin (PSNE). They are a peer-support network where survivors help survivors.
Business owners along Talbot Street have expressed their concerns about what is taking place in the alleys nearby. They've contacted the St. Thomas Downtown Ddevelopment Board, the mayor and police.
"No doubt we have issues in the downtown with homelessness," says St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge. "We have been meeting with community partners, and the mayor has created a taskforce on homelessness. Bottom line is we need a shelter 365 days of the year."
The Inn Out of the Cold does not begin running until mid-October, but Mayor Joe Preston is working on moving that date up to Labour Day.
"We hope to put a system navigator in place where we don't just push people onto the next place," says Preston. "It's - What is stopping you from finding a permanent home? What is stopping you to find a solution to your addiction issues? Or what can we do to help with mental health issues?"
The mayor, police chief and other community partners will meet again Wednesday afternoon to discuss more of the issues.
"It's tricky, it's challenging," adds Chief Herridge. "There is a number of people involved in homelessness and we are starting to experience the issues that go with a growing city. "
But Vazquez isn't a believer that this issue can be solved quickly.
"I think it's going to take a partnership, some initiative and leadership by the city. It requires the city, businesses, PSNE and money. That's what's going to solve this issue."