Ottawa·ELECTION 2018

The Fix: How to help those struggling in the ByWard Market

With the Oct. 22 municipal election just around the corner, CBC Ottawa's All In A Day is collecting municipal gripes — and seeking solutions.

Series shares voter concerns, from community housing to potholes

'There are a lot of people that are suffering'

CBC News Ottawa

3 years ago
Erika Perley shared her concerns regarding marginalized residents in the ByWard Market at CBC All In A Day's election pop-up event. Dion Metcalfe responded with a few possible solutions. 4:37

With the Oct. 22 municipal election just around the corner, CBC Ottawa's All In A Day is collecting municipal gripes — and seeking solutions.

The show invited eight listeners to share stories about a specific time they've felt let down by the City of Ottawa, from an over-proliferation of potholes to missing sidewalks at bus stops.

Their stories were gathered Oct. 3 at a pop-up community event called The Fix, hosted by CBC Radio's Alan Neal.

Erika Perley feels the city isn't doing enough to address disorder in the ByWard Market, or to help the people who are struggling there.

"Almost every morning, I am woken up at 3 a.m. by screaming," she said.

One recent morning, Perley saw two people lying in the road, obviously impaired by drugs.

"They had fallen into this position where they were directly, directly in the road," she said. "I called the police immediately and the response was wonderful, but I just don't like the vibe of the Market."

People need help 

Perley knows people in her community are struggling and need help.

"There are a lot of people that are suffering there, and I don't know if they have access to the services they deserve."

Perley, who used to live in Amsterdam, said services there are spread across the city rather than concentrated in one area.

"They force landlords to offer part of their rentable property to social housing," she said. "I don't think we should be warehousing people in an area and then calling it a day."

All In A Day is committed to pursuing solutions to all of the problems that have been identified as part of The Fix. 

On Thursday, we heard from the three candidates in Rideau-Vanier: Mathieu Fleury, Thierry Harris and Matt Lowe. Salar Changiz did not respond. Here's some of what they had to say. Their answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Mathieu Fleury

You have described very well the realities of some of our most vulnerable residents and our community's struggle.

I, like many, believe that dignity starts with a home. Housing needs are immense here in Ottawa. I chose to join the Ottawa Community Housing board eight years ago and over the last four years, I have been elected as chair of the board.

Locally, over the last four years we have housed over 7,600 residents who were staying in our shelters and will now have a home. Emergency shelters are only a short-term solution to help our most vulnerable. That is why I am proposing an unprecedented housing investment this coming term.

I am proposing a one per cent tax levy city-wide. That means $14 million per year over four years, $56 million this term, targeted to a housing initiative. This is a tangible solution.

We need to leverage funds and better integrate supports for mental health and education.

Thierry Harris

I think first and foremost we have to acknowledge how we got here. This is a community that has been divided for quite some time on this issue, and as vice-president of the community association and a resident of Lowertown, I have experienced what Erika has experienced myself.

I don't think it is normal, in the shadow of Parliament Hill, that we have so many people who are struggling to integrate into the community.

We have to approach this from a completely different mind frame, be inclusive and to say to anybody in the community that you are part of this community and you matter.

I really don't believe that we would be in the situation if we had the right leadership at the city to engage with all different parties that are part of this. This is an opportunity for Ottawa to do something about it.

I would do programs, day programs so people can have something to do during the day. I would have working shelters where people can get a laundry list of things to do. They can get up in the morning and they can do those things and after they can have a bed at night.

They can feel like they have some purpose. They can feel like they have some dignity.

I want to change this mind frame completely and say that everybody matters and everybody is part of the community.

Matt Lowe

We need more housing, more affordable housing.

These people do have dignity and we have to treat them like that

We need more rehabilitation centres so people can get off the drugs that they are supervised injecting in these centres, and they need places to go for work after that.

It may take months or years for these people to feel like they are part of society. We don't need to only rehabilitate, but we need to work on the reintegration of these people into society.

I am against the universal income, but I believe that maybe people who have successfully passed [these] rehabilitation programs should access an extra income so they have a fair chance in getting their life together after that.

It would be an investment in our future if once we get these people off the street and into a house we can give them incentives [so] that they do not step backward.

More boots on the ground is definitely needed in the Market so after hours these individuals can ... either [get] back to the shelters or these locations where they will have a place in.