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Peterborough-Kawartha MPP questions if mayor wants future provincial funding for housing

Click to play video: 'Growing tension between Peterborough-Kawartha MPP and Peterborough mayor' Growing tension between Peterborough-Kawartha MPP and Peterborough mayor
Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith is asking the City of Peterborough to decide if it still wants provincial funding for housing after he and Mayor Diane Therrien wound up in a war of words this week – Feb 19, 2021

Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith is asking the City of Peterborough to decide if it still wants provincial funding for housing after he and the mayor wound up in a war of words this week.

Global News Peterborough has obtained a copy of a letter Smith sent to city council on Friday, questioning whether Mayor Diane Therrien acknowledges or appreciates the province’s more than $6 million in housing supports.

Moreover, Smith asks if city council still wants the province to provide financial support for housing.

“I find myself in a position where it appears that the mayor no longer sees value in the province providing millions of dollars in support for housing for the residents of the City of Peterborough,” he writes. “I believe that this position taken by the mayor is not the correct course of action for the residents that I represent. I am afraid that I must ask council directly for direction on this matter.”

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Read more: Peterborough city council defers discussion on city’s housing and homelessness plan

Global News Peterborough has reached out to Therrien for comment but has yet to receive a response.

Smith says he wants direction from council to either request that the Ministry of Finance continue to provide funds to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for the city or simply tell the Ministry to stop providing funding “because the City of Peterborough no longer wants this support.”

Smith’s stance stems from Tuesday’s virtual city council meeting discussing a possible restructuring of how to govern affordable housing during which Therrien criticized the MPP.

“We have a federal member of Parliament who is very willing to try to advocate for funds here. We have a provincial member of Parliament that is missing from the equation, so that is something that I will highlight again, that we have a Municipal Affairs and Housing Ministry that needs to come to the table,” she said.

Smith on Thursday night took to Twitter to express his dismay at Therrien’s remark and outlined in a series of tweets more than $6 million in funding projects for affordable housing.

That prompted Therrien to tweet back “Trying to read this ‘thread’ is like listening to nails on a chalkboard.” — echoing a line Premier Doug Ford used to describe NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

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Smith’s letter also noted that Therrien was not present for an Ontario budget consultation meeting on Jan. 25 with the Ministry of Finance and Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini. Smith noted the meeting was attended by mayors of neighbouring municipalities.

“However, Mayor Therrien chose not to attend and did not provide any direction to the Ministry of Finance with respect to the desires for funding for the City of Peterborough from the Province of Ontario,” Smith wrote.

“It appears that Mayor Therrien finds the sound of more than $6,000,000 in funding from the province to assist in housing within the City of Peterborough to be offensive.”

Smith said he wants a quick response from the city on its position for funding as the province finalizes the 2021/2022 budget.

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“I want there to be no confusion about what my position is. I am advocating for clean, affordable and sustainable housing for residents in our community and as I have stated repeatedly, in public and in private, I am willing to work with anyone to achieve that,” he concluded.

Among the funding allocations for the city Smith highlighted included:

  • $3,380,790 for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative
  • $983,236 for Home For Good
  • $776,900 for the Investment in Affordable Housing Extension Program
  • $391,680 for the Ontario Priority Housing Initiative
  • 488,271 for the Strong Communities Rent Supplement Program

— More to come

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