“I find it extremely disturbing that the chairman of our social services board thought it was appropriate to approach a private company in order to shut down a group of marginalized people, rather than working with local service providers to find a compassionate solution to the complex problems facing many members of our community ”
Editor’s Note: Mr. Newman writes about the history of BayToday Access to Lake Nipissing has been gated for “protection” and “prevention,” the railroad says.
I am writing to you today about the fence erected at the end of 10th Street, adjacent to the Outaouais Valley Railway (OVR) tracks, blocking access to Lake Nipissing and the trail known to locals as of “Sentier des condos”.
Three years ago, when my partner and I were looking to buy our first home, we chose our home on Copeland Street largely because of the proximity to the lake. We were delighted that we were able to walk from our front door to the water in a matter of minutes, and are now extremely frustrated that this access point was fenced off without any consultation with local residents.
City officials argued that residents accessing the waterfront via this route were doing so illegally, yet the recreational trail map, available on the City of North Bay website, clearly shows this location as an access point to the trail.
Since use of this hotspot was encouraged by the city, I was amazed to learn that Mark King, City Councilor and Chairman of the Nipissing District Social Services Administration Board (DNSSAB), had taken it upon himself to contact the OVR about erecting a fence there. This was apparently in response to concerns about the temporary “tent city” encampment of homeless people near the railroad tracks.
I think the concerns expressed by residents and local businesses are legitimate, and I don’t want to downplay the impact of the behavior of some residents of the camp – everyone should be able to feel safe in their own homes, businesses, and families. his neighborhood. . Having said that, I find it extremely disturbing that the chairman of our Social Services Board of Directors found it appropriate to approach a private company in order to isolate a group of marginalized people, rather than working with local service providers to find a solution to the complex problems facing many members of our community. I would have thought that the person responsible for overseeing social services in our community would want to help vulnerable people, not put up barriers to separate them from the rest of society.
The construction of this fence further divides our community, contributing to a toxic “us versus them” mentality.
Rather than pulling people apart, we should bring people together to create solutions that address the problems and concerns that affect everyone in the community. I urge the City of North Bay and the OVR to work with local residents to replace this fence with a safe and inexpensive crosswalk, similar to the “Ryan’s Way” crossing built in 2008 near Trout Lake Road after a tragic accident involving an Ontario Northland Former. This type of crossing would restore access to the lake while ensuring that everyone can cross the tracks in complete safety.