Carrying signs and beating drums, some 10 protestors gathered in front of the steps of Greater Napanee town hall this morning to show their support for Stepping Stone Homeless Shelter.
Scott Drader, who owns the plot of land on Dairy Avenue which currently has trailer homes on it, was among those protesting.
Greater Napanee mayor Marg Isbester met with the protestors outside town hall to hear their concerns. She also attempted to clear up some misconceptions surrounding the issue, including the claim the town was going to tow the trailers from the property today. Though a trailer park in that area is in violation of the zoning by-law, Isbester said they won’t be pulling the trailers today. Drader himself acknowledged that he didn’t think the town would pull them today.
“We have to have a judge’s order to be able to remove them, which is exactly what the letter (presented to Drader by the town earlier this month) said,” Isbester noted.
Isbester expects the issue will be further discussed at tomorrow night’s council meeting, which gets underway at 7 p.m.
“Had Mr. Drader or the group come to us after Nov. 18, 2018, we might not be standing here,” said Isbester. “Whether the answer would be good or bad. The good thing about this happening is its pushed things forward.”
Drader countered that his first meeting with town council two years prior didn’t go well and discouraged him from trying to work with the town.
Isbester noted the town would be liable for any accidents that were to happen on the property if they were to ignore the by-laws.
Though members of the group at times refused to let Isbester answer any questions by speaking over her, the mayor was willing to at least listen to the concerns. The protestors called for the town to leave Stepping Stone alone and to allow for tiny homes to be placed on the property.
“A shelter is what we need,” said Isbester. “There’s no getting around it. There needs to be a shelter, but a shelter with services. A shelter with mental health and addictions, teaching people how to be good tenants. Teaching landlords how to be good landlords.”
Drader says he will have a rep at tomorrow’s council meeting to speak more about the issue.