As the waterhole gets drier, the animals get meaner

To the Expositor:

I could not help but react to last week’s letter to the editor re: housing options and Hope Farm (‘Mindemoya taxpayer concerned with housing options,’ June 20, page 4). While the gentleman who wrote the article indicated the information he wrote was to his knowledge true, much of the information therein was in fact incorrect. For example, the Nixon Street residence is not a seniors’ residence. Eligible tenants, by law, consist of adults from anywhere in Ontario. They need not be seniors nor need they be from Mindemoya or for that matter from Manitoulin. They can come from anywhere in Ontario and they need not be free of any physical or mental disability to be eligible to live there. Thank goodness, as many, if not most, would no longer be there. It is also wrong to believe that they need to be poor to qualify for an apartment. The building’s tenants do not have to be essentially penniless as do Ontarians who seek to receive Ontario Works (welfare).

A number of the tenants may well have a significant accumulated wealth. A number of the tenants may well be paying the maximum rent that the administrators of the building are allowed by law to charge tenants in such “publicly subsidized buildings” even if the maximum rent is less than the rental cost of a similar ‘non-subsidized’ apartment in the same community. The “geared-to-income” rent only really comes into play if the tenant in question has such a low “annual income” that he/she cannot pay the maximum rent that the administrators of the building are by law allowed to charge as rent. (The minimum rent payable can in fact be as low as $40/month.)

The residents of the Nixon building that come from Community Living are few and far between. They are not “uncontrolled and rowdy.” There is nothing to substantiate the claim that “the administration and caretakers are not capable or able to administer their responsibilities properly and fairly.” There is no verifiable reason to buy into the opinion that they should be replaced. The letter’s author asks if the parents or relatives should not assume some of the financial responsibility. He knows more than I do if he assumes that the parents or families of the building’s tenants do not assume some financial responsibility. I like to believe that, as Ontarians, we are all paying our fair share of the taxes needed to support our public institutions as we all at some point in time benefit from those same services: whether it be subsidized child care, public education, public highways, public law enforcement, public health care, municipal water and sewers, etc., etc.

Our world once had a leader who felt people of lesser intellect and ability should be not simply isolated and warehoused, but indeed eliminated. I like to believe we learned from that experience and won’t go back to repeating it as our collective waterhole gets drier. Let’s leave ‘The Lord of the Flies’ in the world of fiction and let’s not regress by seeing Community Livings become little more than George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ We are living through difficult times and difficult decisions will be called for; let’s not treat other humans as we treat the other life forms on this planet.

Gary Champagne

Spring Bay

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gary Champagne is the former chief administrative officer of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board.