Dear Mayor and City Councillors,
I’m extremely disheartened by what is happening with the emergency Out of the Cold shelter. So many concerned citizens moved quickly to get the sleeping homeless in from the cold winter nights. The urgency was clear. We had an emergency on our hands.
No one is asking the city for money, or land, or resources. That is all being provided by volunteers and community. All that is being asked is that the city allow the site, the Bishop’s House, to be used as a shelter.
I realize there are regulations and rules regarding zoning restrictions, however, this is an emergency.
Please declare a state of local emergency. According to the City’s Emergency Response Plan, Annex B: “A Municipality may, when satisfied that an emergency exists or may exist in all or part of a municipality, declare a State of Local Emergency…” The city could then allow the Out of the Cold shelter – which has been secured, set up, staffed, and just waiting for city authorization – to open immediately.
In cases of winter storms and power outages, such declarations are made and warming shelters are provided for the city’s housed residents. The situation is so much more dire now for the city’s unhoused residents, and has been so for many weeks. They cannot wait another few weeks while this gets sorted out via the normal channels.
The homeless are also residents of the city. What happens to them should matter, enough to warrant declaring a state of local emergency on their behalf.
I urge you to reconsider your decision not to declare a state of local emergency. You have the power and authority to do this and make the shelter happen now. For the sake of the most vulnerable residents in our city, please exercise your power to save them from the potentially deadly winter cold.
Note from the NB Media Co-op editors: for background on this letter, read “Home is where the heart is: A note on Fredericton’s ‘tent city,'” an opinion article written by social work students at St. Thomas university.