A homeless person sleeping outside of a building. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn Media)A homeless person sleeping outside of a building. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn Media)

Sarnia council abandons tent city plans, discussion still expected at county council

Sarnia council has abandoned plans to move forward investigating possible properties to accommodate a tent encampment for homeless individuals, but the idea hasn't been dropped completely.

A request, made in October by City/County Councillor Chrissy McRoberts, to provide individuals living rough with a dedicated area was received and filed on Monday.

While the idea did not receive support from Lambton County's social services department at the committee level, Councillor McRoberts is still planning to raise it for discussion at county council.

"I would like to speak out at the county and hopefully everyone [will] flood the county who is responsible for housing," McRoberts said. "Please, if we all could just come up with solutions... that's what's going to help these folks that can not find somewhere to stay for the winter. We all are in this together."

Councillor Brian White, who serves as Lambton's deputy warden, thanked McRoberts for continuing the conversation.

"Ultimately, the grand public perception is not shifting toward frustration and anger towards the folks themselves who are unsheltered," White said. "People are angry at systems. People are angry at local government. People are angry at provincial and federal governments for allowing us to find ourselves in these situations."

White acknowledged input from residents at Monday's meeting as part of the future solution.

"I think if we maintain this sense of compassion, and understanding that we are all dealing with this collectively, then we all can take this information and continue to work together. We will find the right model that fits for Sarnia," he said.

In addition to consulting with county staff, city staff spoke with Sarnia police and determined a sanctioned encampment was not a recommended solution to homelessness in the city.

The next regular meeting of Lambton County Council is on December 6.

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