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Cambridge councillor asks region for collaboration with mobile health services amid parking feud


A Cambridge councillor is asking for Region of Waterloo staff to help find a viable solution for mobile health services amid a parking dispute that’s preventing them from doing their lifesaving work.

The Sanguen Health Centre provides support to people experiencing homelessness through its community health van.

But in March, the organization was told it can no longer park on Market Street, steps away from The Bridges shelter, which they have done since 2017. 

The city says they received complaints when the van is parked on the street because it blocks vision for other vehicles. City staff say a high volume of traffic on the streets from the van’s clients creates a major safety concern.

“So really what that means is that we’re not able to continue building relationships with folks and then potentially getting them into health care services or other types of services,” said Simone Morrison, director of outreach for Sanguen Health Centre.

The dispute prompted Cambridge Ward 7 councillor Scott Hamilton to bring forward a motion to council, which will be presented Tuesday night.

In the motion, Hamilton cites data from the Region of Waterloo showing chronic homelessness has increased by 129 per cent since January 2020. Those numbers are expected to triple by 2028.

Drug and opioid-related calls and death are rising in the region too. There were 377 calls reported in 2023 in Cambridge. There are 93 so far this year.

If passed, the motion would see the City work with regional staff to find ways for mobile health providers to operate effectively in the city.

“The spirit of this motion is how we can get those mobile health services back to help those most vulnerable residents of our population and do it as quickly and as effectively as possible,” said Hamilton.

The motion indicates this would include the use of regional parking lots or vacant lands, in order for mobile providers to focus on people experiencing homelessness, addictions, sexually transmitted diseases or those who don’t have access to additional health services.

“We know that mobile health services serve a tremendous good to our most vulnerable populations. So it’s trying to get those services back on our streets as quickly as possible by integrating the region, the city and anyone that can help in any jurisdiction,” said Hamilton.  “Regardless of our jurisdiction, I think that’s something every level of government can agree on.”

Morrison says proximity to The Bridges is vital because they know that’s where people need most help.

“So for a lot of the folks that we were seeing, that's where they're spending their time. And we're really strategic in the spots that we pick. We really want it to work for the people that use the service. So going to where people spend their time is going to be the key to reaching those folks,” said Morrison.

A vote on the motion is expected on May 28. Top Stories

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