CAMP’s request for permit extension at Midtown Mall to be heard Tuesday at Oshawa’s Community Services Committee

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Published April 18, 2022 at 11:22 am

Supporters of the Community Assisted Meal Program (CAMP) – told to pack up their trailer and vacate the Midtown Mall parking lot a month ago after their request for a permit extension was denied – will be back in the council chambers Tuesday hoping for a reprieve from Oshawa Community Services Committee.

CAMP, which provides meals-to-go and basic necessities to the homeless, had their request for an extension beyond March 31 denied at committee on March 28.

Raymond Bond, one of CAMP’s main organizers, will be one of four delegations set to speak tomorrow on the permit extension.

Bond said he is requesting the trailer be allowed to remain at the Midtown Mall location for two years to ensure on-site storage of supplies needed to provide a takeout-ready food environment.

“The take-out option captures a demographic who does not like to mingle with large crowds, those who are still nervous of indoor environments with others, and perhaps those who prefer not to eat in because of the increased chance of running into someone they have conflict with,” Bond said in his letter to council. “Our 100 per cent citizen-run meal program offers a neutral environment free from pan tilt zoom cameras, security or requests for identification.”

“CAMP operates unconditionally and is designed to be free of the antagonism that can sometimes occur if there are too many unnecessary rules. Our group of volunteers are welcome to bring their children to participate and they do quite often. This allows the opportunity for single parent families to volunteer without needing a sitter, and also signifies to single parents who are struggling, that our meal program is a safe environment for children, free from the usual inhibitions or stigma that may deter some from using a typical ready-made food service.”

These services are provided by CAMP and its network of volunteers at zero cost to Oshawa taxpayers.

CAMP has been operating at Midtown since November 1, 2021 after six years at Memorial Park. The Midtown location, claims Bond, is ideal because it is located near Ontario Works, Service Ontario and Service Canada, making it the “ideal location for the many clients who already frequent Midtown Mall on regular basis.”

CAMP is operational for just 90 minutes a day and serves take-out only.

A Facebook poll taken by Councillor Brian Nicholson just after last month’s committee vote found the majority of people in support of CAMP and what they do and John E. Walker, another of CAMP’s organizers claimed “petty political games” were being played at the expense of Oshawa’s homeless.

“The majority of our politicians have lost the meaning of love and compassion (and) caring about those most in need,” Walker said.

The motion to extend the permit last month lost by a 6-5 margin with Mayor Dan Carter casting the deciding vote. In order to get the occupancy permit request back on the table requires a two-thirds majority, or four votes, noted Councillor Rick Kerr, who chairs the Community Services Committee.

“I am really looking forward to what the delegations have to say on Tuesday,” Kerr said, adding that if the motion is defeated the matters is closed. “With a sixth wave of COVID here, I do not believe this is the time to be removing a needed food service to those of our citizens who require assistance – and it is not just the homeless. Sixty-five per cent of the people who visit CAMP for assistance are either on ODSP or are financially affected by COVID.”

“I guess we’ll see what the Committee says.”

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