Sister Christine Leyser ran the Guelph Drop-In Centre for 35 years and is considered by many to be the patron saint of Guelph's marginalized population. On Monday she appeared before Guelph council to express her support to transform the Parkview Motel into permanent supportive housing.
Her are her comments in their entirety:
Sister Christine: Thank you so much for me being able to speak to you. I worked in Guelph, at the Drop-In Centre as you know, for 35 years. I love Guelph and I love the people in Guelph. And I am so pleased that the Drop-In Centre is trying to get the zone changed so that people in need will have permanent housing.
The important thing, since the early ‘90s, we have had people at the Parkview on many, many times. And what we’re hoping now, that the people who go there will be able to close the door and say, “I am home. I have a place to live. I can hang up pictures. I can lay down when I want and no one’s going to put me out.”
In the past, what was happening, they could stay for two weeks and then they would have to move somewhere else.
Many of the people, men and women who maybe don’t look like of people – maybe they don’t dress like them, maybe they don’t even speak like them and have an education like them but they are people in need of our help, they are people who want a home, they are people who want to be cared for and loved.
And I know the most important thing there will be the staff that will be there 24 hours a day, and so if a resident needs something they can go straight to the staff or they can phone the staff so that nobody has to worry whether they’re wandering the streets looking for help. It’s right there at their fingertips and that’s the blessing of the place.
And the other thing I know, at the Drop-in Centre Gail and her staff are improving the look of the Parkview. When we were there, it certainly didn’t have a good look but now there’s a difference. There will be people who really care about this structure. They will really care about the people there and they will also care about the neighbours. The neighbours are important and that is why it will help the people to take care of themselves and look out for the neighbours as well.
I feel blessed to have known Gail and everyone at the Drop-in and I feel so blessed to have worked 35 years at the Drop-in.
Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, to approve people with permanent residence, so I hope the zoning changes. Thank you so much.
Mayor Cam Guthrie: Thank you Sister Christine and we appreciate it. Let me just see if there are any questions as a follow-up to you.
I don’t see anything Sister Christine, but putting this particular issue aside, I know I speak on behalf of all of council and our community that we thank you for your past service in our community. It’s so great to hear your voice and we all hope you’re doing well.Sister Christine: Thank you so much. I feel blessed to be here tonight with you.