Thunder Bay city council hears suggestions for isolation space, free bus, shelter beds
Costly suggestions come on same night at council ratifies 2021 budget
City councillors in Thunder Bay, Ont., heard a number of suggestions from an activist group, which wants the city to do more to keep its vulnerable population safe.
Not One More Death made a presentation to council, noting three changes in operations could improve the lives of people who are living on the street, or are just released from jail.
The group brought forward its recommendations as the region is in the middle of cold snap, with overnight temperatures sitting around - 30 C.
The first suggestion is to create an isolation centre for those who are homeless, or were incarcerated, to encourage those populations to stay isolated from COVID-19.
"Where only people that are coming off of the street, or have been incarcerated can safely go for isolation," said Cassie Thornton, a member of Not One More Death.
"But, by also paying them a very healthy daily honourarium, and providing access to entertainment, health, and social workers," she said, noting the figure of $150 per day, in cash, would be a good incentive.
If those who go to the centre stayed for two weeks, the cash incentive would be doubled, the group suggested.
The presentation did not include any suggestions on where the funding for the centre itself, or its cash incentive would come from.
The group also listed a number of other suggestions, including free taxi transportation to and from the facility, for it to include a safe injection site, as well as a number of other mental health supports.
A new concept also proposed was the creation of a 24/7 bus route, which would provide free service. The route would run between the two downtown cores, and passengers would not be forced off at anytime. The bus itself could act as a defacto warming centre, the group said.
The bus would have a social worker on it at all times, while volunteers would escort passengers to social services, which would be the destinations along the specialized route. It would also have a stock of PPE and winter clothing on it at all times.
The group also calls for additional shelter beds, and reimbursement of social groups that pay out of pocket for meals, motel rooms and other services for vulnerable populations.
Not One More Death also said it wants to see police funding halted, including funds for a new police headquarters, while the city remains in a state of emergency. The group said involving police in any of its initiatives will ensure they are not successful.
Other requests include building a longhouse and creating a coordinator for shelter programs.
The requests from the group will be investigated by city administration. Not all of the requests, however, fall under city jurisdiction.