Members of an anti-poverty group in Sudbury picked a good night to stage a protest at city council.
As Tuesday's meeting began – Mayor Marianne Matichuk had just started roll call – members of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) began a protest in the gallery.
As they read a speech and chanted demands for the city to immediately open overnight beds for the homeless, they were supported by some Steelworkers in the crowd, who were there seeking the city's backing on another matter.
The meeting was delayed a few minutes until the protesters had their say. They relented after a few minutes, listened to security at Tom Davies Square and left council chambers, still holding their signs and chanting. They lingered for awhile in the lobby before leaving.
With the Elgin Street Mission now closed overnight in winter unless there's a cold-weather alert, SCAP wants the city to step in and provide somewhere for the homeless to sleep. Many won't go to the Salvation Army because they have substance abuse problems, and are sleeping outside or couch surfing.
The city is studying what would be involved in opening a “wet shelter” that admits people with substance abuse problems, but that process is expected to take several months.
SCAP made headlines in 2012 when several members were arrested for occupying the office of Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci to protest provincial cuts in homeless funding.