Belleville, Ont. advocacy group continues to fight for the homeless

Click to play video: 'A rally in Belleville calls attention to the homeless situation in that city'
A rally in Belleville calls attention to the homeless situation in that city
WATCH: A Belleville, Ont., non-profit that fights for the homeless is calling on the city to do more – Jan 11, 2022

A Belleville, Ont., advocacy group is calling on that city to do more to help the homeless.

Members of Not Alone Team Quinte, a non-profit organization that works to support those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity, organized a rally Monday afternoon.

Monday’s rally drew about 30 people including a number of Belleville’s unhoused.

Read more: Report shows many homeless people in Belleville shelters from out of region

A cold yet respectful crowd listened to organizers as well as those who are currently experiencing homelessness.

“It’s here, it’s real and unless we do something it’s going to remain here and it’s going to remain a crisis,” says the founder of the non-profit, Debbie Lee Pike.

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“Housing; the warming centre — if you don’t have housing you have to have somewhere for them to go. Twenty-four hours a day we need something open. It’s too cold not to have it, it’s too hot in the summer not to have it.

“There’s no reason for us not to have something that’s open.”

Click to play video: 'Shelters running out of space as other cities drop off homeless in Belleville'
Shelters running out of space as other cities drop off homeless in Belleville

The Bridge Street United Church warming centre is only open if temperatures dips to – 10 C or below.

“I stand at the church and people drive by in their cars and they look at us like we’re garbage,” said an unhoused person who gave their name as ‘Mary.’

“The biggest problem: there is no affordable housing, and take the limitations off the warming centre. Have them open every day regardless — like at night — regardless of temperatures.”

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The message from those at the rally was that the municipality can and must do more.

“This council has money and it has legal power to exercise to put people in warm places tonight,” says Sean McNeill, a member of the Quinte Labour Council.

“And that’s what the demand is. Of course they will tell you that that is more complicated and there are all these hurdles, but when the city wants to accomplish something it overcomes its hurdles and that’s what I’m asking.”

Read more: Inside an Ontario program where homeless individuals now have homes

Mayor Mitch Panciuk says council is doing everything it can with the resources available.

“I think that anybody who suggests that we’re not doing anything just doesn’t remember,” says Panciuk. ”

“We’re the first council in the history of Belleville to bring an emergency warming centre. We are spending literally hundreds of thousands of dollars helping the vulnerable in our community with our social infrastructure funding. And we will do more as we move along.

“The challenge? There’s always a lot more that we want to do than we have money.”

Click to play video: 'Belleville’s new humane society starting to take shape'
Belleville’s new humane society starting to take shape

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