St. Catharines mayor, MPP asking Ford for emergency funding over downtown issues


Published May 16, 2023 at 1:36 pm

The self-cleaning washroom in downtown St. Catharines has been the site of misuse by the transient community since it opened two weeks ago, said Mayor Mat Siscoe.

The installation of the self-cleaning washroom in downtown St. Catharines just two weeks ago has ended up magnifying many of the societal flaws, especially homelessness and drug use, in the city’s core.

To that end, St. Catharines Mayor Mat Siscoe, St. Catharines MPP Jennie Steven, downtown councillors and businesses are all asking Premier Doug Ford for emergency funding.

Last week at Niagara Regional Council, Siscoe outlined the woes of the downtown core, citing, people openly “using drugs, having sex, hanging laundry… defecating, urinating.”

The new washroom can’t self-clean enough as it has been has been vandalized, its toilet plugged multiple times, and feces spread all over the walls.

Several downtown transients have tried to sleep in the washroom and the facility’s panic alarm has been used “repeatedly” – all of which, Siscoe said, have made plumbers, cleaners, and police “regular visitors”.

Yesterday (May 15), NDP MPP Stevens and local officials fire off a letter to Ford asking for urgent affordable, supportive housing and increased mental health resources.

The letter made it clear that it was no one’s intention to simply say homelessness or drug addiction was the culprit in the core because that simply targets addiction or homelessness with addressing any potential solutions.

The letter noted, “We feel strongly that the people who have fallen on hard times in our community need support, not judgement. Individuals can not receive rehabilitation services, unless they are housed first. To that end, we firmly echo the calls from the Mayor for emergency funding.”

At the regional council meeting, Siscoe said, “I’ve been in this job now for six months and I’m struggling to see what we’re doing to make the situation any better. It is appreciably worse this year than it was last year, and last year was worse than the year before.”

However, he offered up the first step in actually dealing with the issues. “We know that the answer is housing. We know that we can start to deal with a lot of these problems if we have adequate housing in the situation.”

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