A small community of shacks near downtown Bancroft, poses a “complex problem” says the town’s mayor.
After being sworn-in on Tuesday, Nov. 29 for a second term, Paul Jenkins spoke about a Mill Street property, where homeless people have been living.
Swearing-in ceremonies are normally cheerful occasions. But Jenkins said he felt it was important to talk about a hard issue, because he doesn’t feel the province and the federal government are working hard enough with municipalities to address poverty, mental health and homelessness.
Jenkins says many people have approached the town to raise safety concerns about the area, but the municipality can’t do much about it, because it’s on private property. And, he says, police can’t shut it down; they can only enforce laws.
“We do have this situation on Mill Street and the town, in no way, supports that,” he says. “It’s not that we don’t support finding a solution. That is not the solution, is what we’re saying. We’ve got winter rolling in and that’s not a sustainable solution.”
“There needs to be housing solutions; there needs to be transitional housing,” he continued. “There’s a whole myriad of things that needs to happen. Just having an encampment is not the answer. We don’t know what the answer is, but there needs to be an answer.
“And we have pressed the upper levels of government for a years now and have sat in front of them, personally, and have gotten no action.”
It’s not clear how many people live – or have lived – in the shacks, Jenkins says. A quick glance into the property shows that there are five or six shacks, amongst debris.