The City of Ottawa is facing significant challenges when it comes to housing, mental health and addictions. Our community has lived these evolving challenges directly.
Our community is one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in our city. Mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable amenities – a community where you can truly work, live and play.
While not new for local residents and businesses, the past two years have exposed significant gaps in our social and health services system on a city-wide level – concentration of services, lack of access to public washrooms and a lack of mental health resources, to name a few.
We are a welcoming area and want to support our community’s most vulnerable. With our experience and knowledge, we are uniquely positioned to speak up and support a shift in approach and public investments.
Perspectives on the situation are diverse. Residents, clients, businesses, the city, social service agencies, tourism – they all speak to the realities facing the community. One thing in common is that all recognize the need for new and innovative solutions.
The time has come to align on actions that will bring relief and advance meaningful solutions. We need to stop managing crises and get ahead.
Over the last ten years, I have had daily conversations about solving these issues, and three common themes have emerged. I believe these three actions will bring relief into our community:
- Proactive Community Resource Teams: Advancing the presence of 24/7, proactive City resources. This includes on-the-ground coordination of outreach services and mental health responses; integration of urgent housing response to encampments; responding to drug dealing and drug use in the community; organizing effective needle hunters collection routes; proactive city public works patrolling; integrating the Ottawa Police Neighbourhood Resource Teams.
- Health Solutions to Addictions: The Safe Supply program has proven its success. We need to see a doubling of funding for the Safe Supply program. A program that went from a pilot of 25 users to now 450 has shown its success, but the need is much greater. The focus should be to ensure that everyone has a safe supply. Safe supply removes many of the drug use impacts in our community. A clean prescribed drug means no need to commit petty crime to pay for illicit drugs, no need to access from dealers, and reduces the sometimes-deadly effects of these illicit drugs.
- Bold Investments in Permanent Housing: We need to invest in permanent housing. We need to flood the city and every community with affordable housing investments under the Housing First and Supportive Housing models. We need to rethink the old model, close temporary shelters by attrition, and open doors to homes.
I am fully committed to advancing meaningful and permanent solutions and will remain relentless in my efforts to advance these strategies. The only way forward is with all partners on the same page. Moving on to the same goals, we can see progress and regain a proper balance in our community and modernize our approaches.
Our community is the heart of the city of Ottawa. Improvements in our neighbourhood will only grow a stronger city.