Beeton, Ont. man on day 12 of hunger strike to protest new town hall
ALLISTON, ONT. -- For 12 days, Joe Feiner has camped out on the front steps of New Tecumseth's town hall to protest the council's $20 million plan to convert a former school in Alliston into an administration centre.
Day after day, 61-year-old Feiner stays put, hopeful for change while his health deteriorates under the weight of his hunger strike that started on April 11.
Feiner works in construction and has a long history of volunteering in community service organizations. He believes the project will cost more than $20 million with the inflated price of materials.
He says town councillors ignored his concerns at a deputation in March.
"Our hospital needs money. There's a big thermometer in front of our hospital looking to the community for fundraising. This is a worldwide epidemic. Are we going to reach for office supplies or health supplies?" Feiner said.
His actions have caught the attention of residents who have mixed responses to the situation.
Tottenham resident Laurie Neville said perhaps the council needs to look into the issues. "Let's look at the priorities for health, mental health, physical health, our businesses health or financial health. Let's look at that."
"We have to trust that these people [town council] are capable of understanding the needs of our town," said resident Don Smith.
According to Mayor Rick Milne, converting the old school into a new town hall is a practical use of the building. He said the actual cost had yet to be established.
While he respects Feiner's right to protest, the mayor said it's time for him to pack up and go home. "There are other priorities, but right now, I believe the town hall is a priority, and we will deal with it."
Milne said he offered to meet with Feiner, but no such meeting has happened as of yet.
Meanwhile, Feiner said he plans to continue his hunger strike for the time being. A nurse has been volunteering to check on him.
Council plans to revisit the plans at a committee of the whole meeting scheduled in June. Residents will be able to voice their opinions on the proposed new town hall.