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2014-08-13 at NOON

Social agenda

Mayor Keith Hobbs says the city is changing its focus at this year’s AMO conference.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Mayor Keith Hobbs says the city is changing its focus at this year’s AMO conference.
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By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- The city is taking its social problems south in hopes of getting some provincial relief.

The past few years have seen councillors head to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario's annual conference with a focus on infrastructure and economic development. The meetings give councillors and city administration some face time with various provincial ministers when they're on the lookout for funding.

This time around mayor Keith Hobbs said the city's main priority is to get some help to tackle Thunder Bay's homelessness and substance abuse issues.

"That's going to be top of mind for us. These homicides and the homelessness have really brought this to the fore obviously," he said. "We need funding that's the bottom line."

Shelter House wants to keep its successful SOS outreach program running full-time and wants to expand its alcohol management program. Hobbs would also like to start a housing first policy to address homelessness, similar to a program in Calgary.

The problems aren't new and they aren't unique to the city, Hobbs said he remembers the local police union bringing up substance abuse issues in 1997. But Thunder Bay needs help to address the underlying social factors of violent crime.

"Nothing has changed over all those years," he said.

"I don't know that there's any mayor, prime minister or president that can ever prevent people from taking those kinds of horrific actions against other people but if we can address these root problems to crime … I think that's a good start."

Gridlock at the hospital and more long-term care beds also need to be addressed. It's going to make for some long meetings with the ministry of health.

"We need a lot more to address those issues," Hobbs said.

The province has given millions to the city in the past for projects, a good sign for Hobbs that it might help this time around.

 


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Comments

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Tbaylifer 1 says:
It is nice to see that the mayor has finally woken up to the real priorities of the city. Unfortunatly, I believe it is too late.
8/13/2014 1:37:40 PM
tiredofit says:
It's never to late, with that type of mindset our system is bound to fail.
8/14/2014 7:23:57 AM
jonthunder says:
Good for the mayor and councillors on this one; a must do priority issue for our community and region. Now with two MPP's here in cabinet one would hope immediate positive action would be a given; but we best pray.
8/13/2014 3:13:29 PM
Crinkles says:
If I hear one comment on how we should use tax payer dollars to house the homeless. Ill eat my own hat.

On the contrary to that, I still think we should use our "Renew Thunder Bay Funds' for the welfare dome. Thoughts?
8/13/2014 4:38:17 PM
humnchuck says:
Duncan is that you? :)

Well, where do you propose the money to house the homeless should come from? If it's not public funds, are you hoping for a whole lot of donations?
8/13/2014 6:33:57 PM
Crinkles says:
Humnchuck,

1st: I am not Duncan, but the lack of his presence on here lately has allowed for a free fore all of misguided lefties.

2nd: And yes, i think it should be done through donations, not taxation. Unless I can go down and have a meal for free and a I place to sleep, i dont want to be paying for it.
8/14/2014 8:31:59 AM
humnchuck says:
The first part was just a bit of humour. Easy now!

I would absolutely hope that if you needed a meal and somewhere safe to sleep that it was available to you. If there were sufficient funds being donated, then this likely isn't a news item. Sadly, the level of need appears to be greater than what's being donated.

So what's your solution? Any ideas?
8/14/2014 12:48:27 PM
conker2014 says:
The cost of providing shelter to the homeless will come out of your tax dollars regardless what you want. If we do not provide a safe place for the homeless they will become desperate. Desperation leads to criminal action in order to survive. The homeless person who commits the crime will eventually be caught and they will spend time in jail/prison. So regardless of what you want your taxes will pay to shelter the homeless. The interesting part is that prevention (i.e. homeless shelters) cost about $25,000 /person/year to house these people. Jail on the other hand costs about $110,000 a year and prisoners have a tendency to get additional time for behavior issues, or get involved with gangs and become repeat offenders.

To make a long debate shorter, not paying for homeless shelters will cost more in the long run. Prevention almost always cost significantly less than imprisonment.
8/14/2014 2:30:51 PM
jb says:
You're delusional if you honestly believe that you'll be paying less taxes by taking away shelter and services for the homeless.
8/14/2014 3:22:26 PM
moonwolf says:
What is going on at the old LPH? Could this not be a place where the police can take the impaired that are clogging up the hospital and also a place big enough to handle all those who are on wait lists for substance abuse???
8/13/2014 4:48:08 PM
tsb says:
Who will staff it? Who will pay the bills to maintain the building? That's the main issue. The city can't afford to pay for everything. We need help from the province, like Western Canadian cities get.
8/13/2014 10:04:19 PM
Jack Frost says:
For a rookie "Politician" that ran on a "Tough on Crime" platform, you are sadly and shamefully 4 LONG YEARS TOO LATE Hobbsy !!

Obviously you have been too focused on your own personal agenda rather than focusing on city CRIME for the last 4 years.

Hopefully the new mayor can and will be a much more competent and dedicated mayor that can and will do a much better job...
8/13/2014 6:24:35 PM
fastball says:
Yeah...he should have gotten the Criminal Code changed to suit our needs. He should have had carte blanche to hire more and more police officers. He should have built more jail cells to hold the lawbreakers. He should have instituted a curfew to keep everyone off the streets after 11pm. He should have just nicely ASKED people to stop being alcoholics and drug addicts. He could have ASKED people to kindly stop knifing each other or beating each other up. He could have insisted that newcomers to this town be gainfully employed and have no criminal records.
Seriously - which one of these things do you think would have made a lick of difference?
It's society that's degrading....and nothing that this mayor, or any future mayor, can do much about it....even with their seemingly omniscient powers.
8/14/2014 11:00:19 AM
Joey_J says:
He also should have cut my grass. It is an election year!!!!

He has been the most accessible, most accommodating mayor in our City's history. People need to get their head out of the sand. You really think it will be better with Boshcoff?
8/14/2014 3:52:32 PM
j_northey says:
I'm reading 'short term solutions' again. Lets look for real long term solutions. IE: permanent funding directed to programs that have been shown to work elsewhere. In BC the safe injection sites have been shown to be effective, why are we not pushing for one here? For medical care, it has been shown that single patient rooms drastically reduce long term costs - why are we not pushing to make the hospital follow those rules with funding to renovate the rooms so they can all be that way (single patient)? For all forms of care we should be pushing for a population/land area funding system rather than a 'guess the budget and beg for more' method.

Guess long term solutions aren't what get headlines or votes.
8/13/2014 8:28:22 PM
my 2 cents says:
Cannot push for a safe injection site while Harper is in office. The gov't wanted to shut down Insite and it took a ruling from the Supreme Court to keep it open. Doubt that another CDSA exemption will be awarded while this gov't is in power. BTW Insite opened when the Liberals were in (not a supporter, but hey I believe they deserve recognition for this one)
NIMBYs get scared of the upfront costs regardless that studies display the long term benefits.
For some reason rather than taking a proactive approach, people appear more comfotable with fixing a gaping wound with a bandaid.
8/14/2014 12:59:19 PM
CM Punk says:
Someone woke up Hobbs from his fantasy land or legend of zelda world.
For almost his entire term his priorities are in the wrong place.
Crime in this small town is running wilder then hulkamania. The roads are getting worse and worse by the season. And just a general lack of direction. Council is all over the place with hands in all kinds of cookie jars.

The next council will certainly have a challenge. I hope for new faces and fresh approach to what really made TBay a great city in the past. It was safe, not so expensive to live and a place to raise a family.

8/13/2014 9:31:36 PM
progress now says:
Of note:

"The province has given millions to the city in the past for projects, a good sign for Hobbs that it might help this time around."

There is no doubt that provincial governments' respect municipal priorities and requests as much as possible. The fact that this is true also in Thunder Bay belies the hinterland/metropolis argument advanced by those who say we are "screwed by Toronto". Even the city of Winnipeg speaks of a insensitive provincial government, and you can take a cab from city hall to the legislative buildings.

The problem is not one of provincial funding here, it is of city priorities. What do you give up when you fund something else?

While council satisfies the unquenchable thirst for money for the privileged waterfront, the rest of the city starves for resources.

We may expect the province to be blamed for our social ills. Its the way this city works.

It couldn't possibly be faulty city priorities, could it?
8/13/2014 10:34:01 PM
Geordie says:
However prior to addressing these issues during a local radio interview, he needed to toss in remarks about the multiplex. Willing to look at problems, maybe.. but only after prioritizing his agenda.
8/13/2014 11:32:03 PM
Royalflush says:
Election time coming up. Hobbs has got to make himself look like he cares for the little people. He hasn't done much in 4 years, what makes him think we will believe him now? Hobbs has only one agenda, event centre, he will say amything to get re-elected so that he can pursue his welfare dome dream!
8/14/2014 2:39:21 AM
snotzky says:
Yes, but lets pour the money in the Event Centre,cause that's more important than the safety and well being of Thunder Bay citizens. Keith you ran on a platform of fighting crime, knowing you had no power over the Chief of Police, now, this is your new cause??? Like you can do anything about the social problems that fills our community. You'll say you can..good one Keith.
8/14/2014 8:46:23 AM
boofer69 says:
You should have seen this a long time ago...

Too worried about the bridge before...
8/14/2014 9:59:23 AM
varga says:
Wow!! We must be getting better here in the comment section...It took 3 comments before people started complaining about things that have nothing to do with anything said in the article and then start arguing about imaginary scenarios.... Looking good Thunder Bay!!
8/15/2014 11:35:58 AM
orig junkyarddog says:
Might I just remind you that he's made election promises, in the last election that were broken? Outright ignored! And let’s not forget I'm more educated now so I changed my mind, about the citizens having any say in a democratic system. He was elected to spend 100's of millions of dollars, to run a city yes. But he wasn't elected to go back on his election promise of a people’s approval of any project close to and over 100 million dollars. There’re studies and surveys being completely self-serving to there cause for the Viagra Events Centre. In short he went back on his word, which makes him a Liar.
8/17/2014 1:36:06 PM
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