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Hundreds protest Barrie's homelessness plan outside city hall


Hundreds gathered outside Barrie city hall Wednesday night, protesting the city's plans to address its homelessness crisis.

Earlier this month city council passed a motion aimed at addressing the number of people homeless in the city. However, on Wednesday, many gathered outside city hall as councillors were meeting to make their discontent with the plan known.

"The first concern that I had, as did others, was that it was passed as a motion without notice," said Susan Eagle, a minister at Grace United Church. "[That] meant that there wasn't an opportunity for the public to really know what was being discussed or even to be present for the discussion."

The motion called for additional funding requests to be submitted to other levels of government, funding for a lunch program and for a re-unification fund to pay to help people reunite with families or other types of support.

The motion also called to prohibit using tents in public parks without a permit and look for ways to prohibit panhandling on city streets.

"I cannot wrap my head around why Barrie council would want to wreck the community that's being built through the actual community helping each other," said protester Ashleigh Pineau. Council is also planning to offer a cooling and warming centre for at-risk individuals to be connected with different support agencies.

"One of the goals of the motion that we passed was to try and help individuals get access to the agencies where you can be referred to, whether it's mental health supports or addiction supports, housing, or any other set of supports that exist through those agencies," said Mayor Alex Nuttall.

As part of the motion handing out food and other grocery items in public spaces without a permit will be prohibited.

"Imagine that you're out in the park someday, and somebody falls down in front of you who is dehydrated, and there's a law that says you're not allowed to hand them a bottle of water," said Eagle. "How ridiculous."

The mayor recently returned from an annual meeting of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, which passed a resolution focussed on addressing the homelessness crisis across the country. He says he had multiple conversations with other municipal leaders about their plans to handle the issue.

"There's some measures that others have put in place that I think they are going to have some success or they are going to have some failures, and we can learn from what they're doing while at the same time we can report back what we're doing," said Nuttall.

With files from CTV's Dana Roberts. Top Stories

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