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Here's where the candidates for Region of Waterloo chair stand on addressing homelessness

Days before Waterloo region residents head to the polls to select a new regional chair, the candidates running for the position are sharing their plans to tackle homelessness.

According to incumbent candidate Karen Redman, the biggest change she has seen in the past four years has been the number of toxic drugs in the community.

“There's a role to play in safe drug supply, which we've advocated for. There's a role to play for treatment services, CTS, but all of that has to be in place because there is no one solution," said Redman. “It’s a growing concern, and I haven’t heard on any door that I have knocked on that people don’t have compassion for those who will be left behind.”

The Region of Waterloo council approved a series of measures in August, to help ease the growing crisis. It included a first-ever decision to create a sanctioned encampment - where a location is still being explored.

The Region's updated Homelessness Response Plan has three other major components, expanding the transitional housing program, expanding home-based supports to help people find and pay for affordable housing and creating an additional emergency shelter space.

Regional chair candidate Narine Sookram said if he was elected, he would visit encampments around the Region and try to get the people living there involved in making decisions.

“We have to have that ability to meet people where they’re at. That’s a skill that I have,” Narine Sookram, a Regional Chair candidate said.

“As a social worker I get each and every one of my clients to be a part of the process. I think that would be a good first step,” Sookram said.

Regional chair candidate Brendon John De Costa has a plan focused on creating a fully funded mental health and addiction centre.

“We need the placement of this center to be away from the main corridors of the cities, move all safe consumption sites to this area, and develop semi-permanent residences within the boundaries of these facilities,” De Costa said in an email.

“We need to constructively contain these populations to allow for easy patrolling of the residents, access to systems and services that will attempt to treat them, collection of data to ensure we are adequately identifying key information about these people, a safe-zone for them to participate in consumptive activity, and to make cleanliness a simpler issue to manage,” De Costa said.

De Costa added anyone not struggling with addictions or mental illness should be assessed on a case by case basis to try and find affordable housing. Top Stories

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