Coun­cil OKs Smart Cities prep

Mayor wants to win $50M for an af­ford­able hous­ing project


City coun­cil voted a fi­nal time Mon­day to en­ter a com­pe­ti­tion run by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to win $50 mil­lion for down­town af­ford­able hous­ing.

Al­though the Smart Cities Chal­lenge is cur­rently closed and ac­cept­ing no en­tries for 2020, Mayor Diane Ther­rien asked coun­cil to start pre­par­ing now for a re­launch of the com­pe­ti­tion in the spring.

The plan car­ried with no de­bate or dis­cus­sion from coun­cil­lors on Mon­day night. The Smart Cities Chal­lenge, run by In­fras­truc­ture Canada, awarded a top prize of $50 mil­lion to the City of Montreal ear­lier this year for its project to make it eas­ier for vulnerable cit­i­zens to ac­cess food and tran­sit.

Ther­rien pro­posed ear­lier this month that the city strike a com­mit­tee — which she would chair — to pre­pare a Smart Cities en­try for 2020.

Coun­cil­lors gave pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval to pre­pare an en­try to Smart Cities ear­lier this month, and on Mon­day the plan got a fi­nal vote.

If Peter­bor­ough is in­cluded on a short­list of 20 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, states a re­port from Ther­rien to coun­cil­lors, the city would win $250,000 to de­velop a de­tailed plan.

The city has been plagued with sky­rock­et­ing rents for sev­eral years, while at the same time the va­cancy rate has shrunk to 1.5 per cent as of last year.

When the Warm­ing Room home­less shelter closed on July 1, an en­camp­ment of more than 40 tents was set up in Victoria Park and smaller tent cities also sprung up at city hall and at parks and church prop­er­ties.

The large en­camp­ment at Victoria Park was dis­man­tled at the end of Au­gust, when the home­less were faced with evic­tions, and many peo­ple went to

camp else­where in public.

Most of the campers who’d pitched tents at Em­manuel United Church or St. John’s Angli­can Church (with clergy per­mis­sion) dis­persed this fall; some said they would couch­surf.

The city cur­rently has cots avail­able for home­less peo­ple ev­ery night in the au­di­to­rium of the Peter­bor­ough Public Li­brary.

Al­though those cots are to be moved to the din­ing hall of Mur­ray Street Bap­tist Church, it wasn’t clear this week when that will oc­cur since the din­ing hall at the church needs ren­o­va­tions in or­der to safely serve as a night­time dor­mi­tory.

Mayor Diane Ther­rien

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