Our Place has opened a new 20-bed winter shelter that will replace some of the spaces lost earlier this year when organizations were forced to take in fewer people each night to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Grant McKenzie, the organization’s director of communications, said the society has received money from B.C. Housing to lease the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s downtown community centre at 755 Pandora Ave.

“It’s only 20 mats, but because of COVID you need a lot of space,” he said.

It sounds like fiction, at first blush: hundreds of dollars appearing in your bank account every month, for no reason other than being alive.

However, Newfoundland and Labrador is taking the first step toward making a guaranteed basic income a reality.

“A Tory senator wrote a book on why we should do this as a country,” Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown said on the assembly floor last Wednesday, in reference to basic income advocate Hugh Segal.

“This crosses party lines, corporate lines.… This is something that’s been talked about since the ’70s.”

A collection of “ragtag, cowboy” groups are gathering to figure out how to keep London’s hardest-to-help homeless people alive through the winter.

If they can figure out something, they might get financial help from city hall. But the challenge is a big one.

“It’s like, here’s the hardest problem, can you ragtag team of cowboys who have been trying to relieve the suffering of people come together with something?” Sarah Campbell, executive director of Ark Aid Street Mission, said.

The group wants to find a quick and short-term solution to feed and shelter what advocates say is a growing number of people who can’t or won’t find traditional shelter space this winter.

Build affordable housing and give those that need it mental health supports. Call me crazy, but why not take over the Westcourt building and create a safe liveable space for those that don’t have it.

If not there, then why not somewhere else?

I believe the amount of municipal revenue generated in the long run from diversification of commercial entities and intensification of population in the downtown core would dwarf the cost associated with fixing homelessness.

A growing number of homeless in Nova Scotia are families. Women and children make up a fast-growing segment of those who become homeless. Many of them simply cannot afford to pay rent and buy food on the income they receive from their low-wage jobs or from public assistance.

When politicians are asked there will be platitudes, but little-to-no active commitment. The idea that the provision of shelter is a government responsibility, undertaken out of a community sense of charity is not widely accepted by legislators in Nova Scotia.

But when homeless people are found dead in abandoned buildings it’s time to take political action.

A lack of food drives at local schools and businesses is leading to empty shelves, says the Guelph Food Bank.

The stock of food on the shelves is currently about a third of what it would usually be at this time of year, which typically sees the agency through until Christmas, said Pauline Cripps, administrator at Guelph Food Bank.

“Our food level stock is low right now, which is alarming for us,” said Cripps. “Food drives have not been going the way they normally would because of the pandemic, so while we are still receiving monetary donations we are not receiving as many non-perishable donations.”

Newmarket residents continue to face food insecurity issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a plan is needed to ensure they don’t go hungry this winter, an advocate for the vulnerable and homeless community is urging the town.

“We would like the Town of Newmarket to work with the coalition partners of the Newmarket Supper Program to devise a plan for food security in Newmarket. This should be the first priority under the heading of community support,” Ross Carson, chairman of Concerned Citizens for the Homeless in Newmarket, told council on Oct. 26.

Demand for meals programs has soared, Carson said, referring as an example to the Tuesday lunch program at Trinity United Church, which typically served 30 meals prior to the pandemic, and now provides 60 meals.