We invite you to read our letter in response to the recent passage in Peterborough of a Parks and Facilities By-Law that targets our local community’s homeless and otherwise marginalized people. If you have any feedback on the letter, please send it to Mark Astrom, CUPE 3908 General Vice President firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send this feedback before noon Friday morning. Your executive will send this letter to the editor of the Peterborough Examiner, and to the Mayor and counsellors of Peterborough.
Re: The Recent Passage of the Peterborough Parks and Facilities By-Law
CUPE 3908 represents part-time academic instructors and graduate student workers at Trent University. The nature of the precarious work performed by our membership, in addition to the significant student debt that many of them experience, means that a significant number of our academic workers do not have a stable source of income and are actually living below the poverty line. Connecting these working conditions with Peterborough’s low vacancy rate, high cost of housing, and lack of accessible subsidized housing in Peterborough has compelled us to write this letter in opposition to the Peterborough Parks and Facilities By-Law.
By-laws of this kind have a disproportionately high impact on marginalized people. They criminalize poverty and put even greater limitations on people who already experience oppression and injustice in our community. Pointing to available shelter beds as the solution does not mean that those beds are accessible or appropriate for those currently living in tents.T he By-Law, coupled with the fact that people living in tents have nowhere else to go, effectively permits the city to fine people exorbitant amounts of money for the alleged ‘offence’ of being unable to afford stable housing for themselves and their families. Such judgment and treatment of fellow members of our community is simply egregious.
Not only was the Parks & Facilities By-Law passed with minimal public consultation, which in itself is disgraceful, it is also an entirely inappropriate method to address homelessness in our community. The very real and transparent problem that needs to be addressed is the inaccessibility of housing, not the presence of tents in parks, which evidently is a natural by-product of the lack of available and affordable housing in Peterborough. The very notion that a by-law whose aim is to restrict the use of public parks would be considered by our City’s elected officials to be an appropriate response to this crisis of inaccessible affordable housing is patently reprehensible.
We call upon the city to:
- Repeal the Parks and Facilities By-Law;
- Make investments in affordable (i.e., geared-to-income), accessible, low-barrier housing;
- Combat gentrification and rising housing costs by establishing limits on suburban development, and require the inclusion of geared-to-income units in all residential developments in the downtown core.
We further urge the City to exact appropriate financial support from the Provincial and Federal governments to help Peterborough address the root causes of our dual housing and homlessness crisis.
CUPE 3908 Executive
Traill College, Trent University