Kenora City Council convened a special meeting today at the Council Chambers to address several important matters.
Resolution number one was introduced, allowing the Council to move into a closed session to discuss specific matters. The topics of discussion included labor relations, the Master Services agreement, and the blue box regulation. After a brief period of discussion, the resolution was passed, and the Council proceeded into the closed session.
Upon returning to the open session, Council addressed the circular materials Master Services agreement. The agreement would cover services related to blue box materials, collection, promotion, and education for eligible community residents. It was decided that Council direct the administration to conduct a comprehensive review of the impacts on solid waste collection services. Before the resolution was put to a vote, the director of engineering and infrastructure provided background information on the subject.
Greg Breen, the Director of engineering and infrastructure services, explained that the circular materials program aims to improve waste management and recycling efforts in compliance with the resource recovery and circular economy act introduced by the province of Ontario. Circular Materials, as the producer responsible organization, offered municipalities the choice to opt-in or opt-out of contracting with them for waste management services.
After deliberation, the resolution was put to a vote, and it was carried in favor of executing the circular materials Master Services agreement. The decision ensures the continuation of collection services under the agreement from July 1st, 2023, to December 31st, 2025.
Leanne Favreau hosts the inaugural episode of “Northwestern Ontario Voices,” a local news program focused on delivering news and information to the community. Favreau and guest Janalee Jodouin discuss the issue of homelessness, affecting not only Northwestern Ontario but the entire country.
As an economic development advisor, Jodouin actively tackles homelessness in Kenora and neighbouring areas. Sharing her experience in Red Lake, Jodouin says that she witnessed dire conditions at an emergency shelter and took action. With community support, she opened a new shelter with transitional apartments, leading to a noticeable decrease in homelessness and improved conditions for individuals in Red Lake.
Jodouin highlights the complexities contributing to homelessness, including Northwestern Ontario’s geographic location, large size and northerly climate with a relatively small population of around 70,000 and consequently limited resources in the larger communities in the area, such as Kenora. Despite the challenges, she stresses the importance of approaching homeless individuals with empathy and understanding.
The conversation explores different forms of homelessness, debunking stereotypes. People facing homelessness come from diverse backgrounds and encounter various challenges, such as addiction, mental health issues, and inadequate support systems. Many turn up in Kenora, for example, because they need to interact with various institutions, including the justice system. Some don’t have the money to get home. Tailored approaches and individualized care are crucial in addressing their unique needs.
Securing funding is essential for homelessness initiatives, and Jodouin emphasizes persistence in pursuing grants and collaboration among municipalities, organizations, and independent groups.
Jodouin explains the surge in homelessness across Canada, attributing it to population growth and stagnant wages. Homelessness affects people from all walks of life. As an economic development advisor, Jodouin actively tackles homelessness in Kenora and neighboring areas.
She says that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed societal vulnerabilities and strained support systems for the homeless. Jodouin points out the disparity of available resources between homeless populations in Kenora and larger cities like Toronto underscores the crisis in smaller communities.
A recent meeting about addiction recovery in Kenora was well-attended, a sign that there is real interest in getting a grip on this issue for some, on a personal level, and also on a societal level. The meeting ranged over many topics.
Hosted by local Jay Barnard, his focus was on letting people know about an on-line addiction recovery program that he developed with others and that would allow people to get on the recovery path in their homes. By harnessing the power of technology, he and his partners aim to break down geographical barriers, ensuring that individuals from all walks of life and all backgrounds can benefit from the program’s offerings.
The program, that has been developed from the partners’ personal experiences in finding the recovery path through various means, provides a compassionate and comprehensive solution for others to overcome their addiction and move forward. The challenges of trauma and mental health issues often underlie addiction issues, Jay explained.
In the coming months, the founders are actively seeking funding and exploring partnerships to expand the program’s reach and impact. Their determination, coupled with the increasing support from the community, signifies new hope and assistance for individuals facing the challenges of addiction which is often related to trauma and mental illness.
The meeting included a couple of recovery stories by people that made use of the on-line program, a live Zoom interview with a Vancouver Police officer who worked on the city’s notorious ‘downtown eastside’, and a general discussion with the participants at the meeting. Topics included safe injection sites, BC’s law allowing small doses of drugs on a person, Alcoholics Anonymous and other means to recovery, and the problems of addicted people on Kenora’s streets. As one participant said, it would likely require multiple strategies to combat the drug crises in Kenora and across Canada, which pose significant health and societal challenges.