CAMP given the thumbs down by City of Oshawa for permit extension at Mid-Town – again


Published April 25, 2022 at 4:01 pm

A community food program that had been handing out sandwiches to the homeless and other disadvantaged people outside Oshawa’s Mid-Town Mall for 90 minutes a day at no cost to the taxpayer has been given the thumbs down by City councillors for the third time in a month.

This time it looks to be the last time, at least for their permit at the Mid-Town location.

Nearly a dozen delegates spoke at Monday’s Council meeting in support of the Community Assisted Meal Program (CAMP), with most appealing to the “compassion” of councillors for a program that “does no harm” and had been handing out food and other necessities without any incidents during most of the pandemic.

Raymond Bond, the co-organizer of CAMP said “food insecurity” was on the rise and he hoped Council would re-consider their previous rejections of the CAMP permit extension. “We’re here fighting for the honour to serve our community,” he said. “We ask that we be allowed to continue our work without any more interference.”

Judy Jaeger, who has been a long-time supporter of the program, said she has been following the issue at committee and council over the last month or so and had “yet to hear a compelling argument for removing the piece of the puzzle CAMP currently provides.”

Rosemary Boute also took the floor to speak on CAMP’s behalf and said it’s not just the homeless who use the program’s services. “The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer,” she said. “I want you to recognize it’s not just the homeless – it’s working folks like you and I too.”

Boute also warned that with a municipal election coming this fall the issue could become a deal-breaker for some voters.

Councillor Rick Kerr shared his thoughts on the motion, noting that Oshawa has a reputation as a “compassionate” city, a rep that is in danger of being tarnished if the motion to deny the extension was carried.

Councillor Brian Nicholson also tried to sway his fellow councillors, appealing to them to “look into your hearts” before making a decision.

“What is CAMP doing that is so negative? They’re giving food to the community. Let’s not add to the problem.”

His plea fell on deaf ears, however, with Councillor John Gray saying the “compassion argument” falls flat because there are other organizations providing similar services around the city. “Nobody will go hungry,” he said.

Even Derek Giberson, normally a champion of social justice issues downtown who just so happens to be the President of the nearby Back Door Mission agency, couldn’t see the benefits of renewing CAMP’s permit, saying this “isn’t the bottom falling out of people’s lives.”

The vote to deny CAMP’s permit extension passed by a comfortable 7-4 margin, with only Nicholson, Kerr, Councillor John Neal and Councillor Rosemary McConkey voting against.

CAMP Memorial Park for six years before the City moved their trailer to the Mid-Town location

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