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Council approves homelessness efforts in rural communities

Last Updated Mar 8, 2018 at 6:01 am MDT

PHOTO. Supplied.

Rural communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) will soon see efforts in addressing homelessness.

Ron Quintal, President, McKay Metis, spoke at Tuesday night’s council meeting about the need to work together to end what he calls an epidemic.

The Fort McKay Metis Association’s Housing First program, along with 18 others were denied government funding through the Community Plan on Homelessness (CPH), which is fully funded by federal and provincial governments.

Quintal encouraged council to address the issue in a more creative, collaborative ways than just funding.

“Only together, as a region, can we take care of a region.”

He said it’s more than just getting people off of the streets, but the supports that follow, such as creating more affordable housing and other initiatives.

Administration of the RMWB confirmed that there are currently no rural initiatives in the region, mostly because the government denies them.

Councillors continued to ask questions and discuss possibilities in relation to the problem and agreed that efforts need to be adjusted, since a large portion of those using in-town resources are from rural communities.

With only two years left in the municipality’s 10 year plan to end homelessness, Councillor Balsom motioned to create a plan for a rural homelessness count within 12 months. That motion was passed unanimously.

Quintal said he didn’t expect the motion to be made, he just wanted to express his grievances with the funding process.

He said equal representation of Fort McMurray and the rural community speaks volumes about council.

In total over $8 million was requested by community projects aiming to combat homelessness. Between federal and provincial funding, it’s anticipated that only $4.2 will be available.