Housing crisis

Parking safety symptomatic of Oshawa’s housing crisis: adviser

“Our city center is under siege”

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Parking is hard to come by in urban areas, and there are always places in a city where you don’t want to park overnight.

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Oshawa Councilman Brian Nicholson recently posted on social media about gender-specific parking spots — spots painted pink and reserved for women.

His post on the Downtown Oshawa Facebook page about it explained that the spots are well-lit and located to improve safety.

Nicholson wrote, “Is this something Oshawa should consider in its public parking lots and garages, especially downtown where many women feel anxious when exiting or commuting to their vehicle from work, shopping, etc?

“I would be interested in your thoughts.”

Nicholson got many responses, pros and cons.

Someone pointed out that naming places like this might actually make the situation worse – it would be easier to target women that way.

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And for that reason, Nicholson said Thursday, it’s an idea that won’t work in Oshawa. They will instead look at things like better lighting.

“There are a few places downtown where people are accosted – just walk from their car to the office, and it’s also a shopping area. And they’ve expressed concern,” he said.

So what’s going on in downtown Oshawa that makes people afraid to leave their cars?

“It is due to the increase in the number of homeless people. Our downtown is under siege, Nicholson said. “The vast majority don’t cause problems, but some do have mental health issues and they’ve had an impact on the region.”

The parking solution was brought up because “people are approached for money when they get out of their car, and some of the approaches are very aggressive.

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“It causes problems for a lot of women who work downtown. And people who live downtown,” Nicholson said.

He is quick to note that Oshawa is not alone – many Ontario cities have the same problem.

It’s a medical problem, he said, but there aren’t enough beds or psychiatric treatment and there’s not much the police can do.

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“The amount people receive in benefits each month is just completely out of step with the reality of the costs – especially housing,” Nicholson said.

Oshawa’s shelters are run by volunteers and provide free food and clothing, the councilor said. And the hospital is there. People flock to his town.

Once there, some are offered housing but won’t take it, said Nicholson, who expresses both compassion and frustration.

“We spend a lot of money and we just skate,” he said.

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The province, he said, needs to do more for local municipalities.

“These are provincial issues, housing and mental health costs. Everything is controlled by the province. We have families there now. We have old people,” he said.

“We have two or three families who share a unit in apartment buildings. It seems that there is no help from the province.

Oshawa has already invested $1 million to improve security downtown, and nothing in the budget can accomplish much more.

“We want to help these people, but we have become a dumping ground. We have elderly people who go to soup kitchens. We can’t close the door because of a few people with mental health issues. »

The problem of parking is one of many. People used an area outside the legion hall as a toilet.

“So put a port-a-potty in it! Everyone is looking for a quick fix, but we have to treat the symptoms first, every day. It takes enough to clean the sidewalks, to give residents a break.

“This housing crisis must be solved.”

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