The project to convert the former Super 8 motel to social housing is going to public hearing, but not without a number of concerns raised by Penticton city council.

The property contains a 54-unit motel with a mix of hotel suites, traditional motel suites and a large indoor swimming pool. A major renovation will see it changed into Compass Court, housing for those in need of mental health services, suffering from addictions or in housing crisis. The property is also intended to accommodate the city’s homeless and emergency weather response shelters, a service that is currently operating at Compass House located downtown.

Fierce debate has swirled in Vanier and beyond ever since the Salvation Army announced plans in late June to build a new multi-purpose facility — which opponents call a “mega-shelter” — on Montreal Road.

The plan calls for a 9,600-square-metre hub that includes an emergency shelter, day programs, medical care, addiction services and administrative space. It would replace the Concorde Motel beside the current Salvation Army thrift store. A house on Ste. Anne Avenue would be demolished to provide a secondary access to the property.

The statistic that 14 to 17 per cent of children under 19 in Saugeen Shores live in poverty struck a chord with some Saugeen Shores councillors who were briefed on the work of the Food Security Action Group – part of the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force – at a July 24 town committee meeting.

For the past four years the Grey Bruce Poverty Task Force – politicians, 51 social agencies and community-based partners – have examined the root causes of poverty and identified barriers to change.

One of the main issues is food security – having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, appropriate and nutritious food – supported by a Food Charter that values health, social justice, culture, education, sustainable economic development and the environment.

On June 28, I was one of several delegations to city council asking for increased funding for rent supplements. These are powerful tools that provide greater affordability for renter households where they currently reside.

In the Peterborough area, there are 2,640 renter households who spend more than half of their total household income on their housing and housing-related costs. This is housing poverty. My research shows that some of these households will spend as much as 90 per cent of total income for their housing.

Premier Kathleen Wynne attended a round-table discussion on poverty reduction in Peterborough on Wednesday afternoon, where she talked about how a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour will help many Ontario families manage.

Many people are working for minimum wage at service jobs, she said at the discussion in the chapel at The Mount Community Centre on Monaghan Road.

These working people struggle to put food on the table, Wynne said.

“They should be able to feed themselves and their families,” she said. “That’s why we’re raising the minimum wage.”

The Author of the Peace and Justice Report on Precarious Work says seven decades of research in the US shows ramping up the minimum wage does not increase unemployment or depress the economy.

David McLaren says Alberta is raising its minimum wage to $15/hr and is leading the country in economic growth.

He adds everyone knows you can’t live on the current minimum wage of $11.40/hr.

Penny Gambell isn’t sure if Lake Country has a homeless problem, but she wants the district to find out and develop a proactive strategy to address the issue.

The Lake Country councillor has brought the issue up at two recent council meetings, which led to a request for district staff to provide council with more information about the extent of homelessness in the community.

While Coun. Bill Scarrow supported her initiative to staff, he asked the question that many might ask: “Is there a homeless problem in Lake Country?”