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LETTER: We have to help those who cannot help themselves

Reader asks, have city council members spoken directly to people who are sleeping in the rough downtown and asked them what they want or need from us?
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GuelphToday received the following Letter to the Editor from reader regarding the need to help our downtown unhoused population.

Dear editor

I have been following the ongoing reports of the status of our downtown population and reading the letters these generate. As a socialist society, we have an obligation to help those who are unable to help themselves. This is what we value and what makes Canada such a great country. We help others.

I noticed that Royal City Mission will be receiving more funding to increase their hours, that is great. It needs to be an expansion to a 24/7 model because there needs to be somewhere people can warm up, use the washroom and get a hot drink and food downtown. Businesses have expressed concern about people urinating on their buildings. Are their portable latrines placed discreetly around the downtown area? Are there any drinking fountains or water bottle refill stations?

Have city council members spoken directly to people who are sleeping in the rough downtown and asked them what they want or need from us? I get uneasy when I hear of planning committees comprised of financially well off, comfortably housed, addiction free people making decisions on behalf of others who do not currently have these advantages. If their needs get met, the behaviours that we find so objectionable downtown should decrease, right? I am troubled at the sight of people sleeping on park benches or huddled in doorways. If we saw a stray dog doing this, we would take it to a shelter, look after it's medical needs, feed it, and help it find a 'forever home.' We would feel nothing but compassion for the poor dog. Why are we treating people so much more poorly than we are treating our stray animals?

Wendy Presant, Guelph