City council has been asked to donate $200,000 in support of the creation of Living Space, a new initiative aimed at helping the homeless in Timmins.

The idea was put forward at this week’s council meeting by representatives of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Cochrane Temiskaming Branch, who want to set up an operations facility, transitional housing and a warming centre at 25 Cedar St. N.

Catherine Simunovic, the president of the CMHA board, told council that Living Space is also the concept name given to a partnership of 11 organizations, who she said are passionately committed to ending the chronic homelessness problem in Timmins.

Since June of last year, Stuart Wood School has sat empty. However, this winter it will be given new life as a safe haven for the city’s homeless population.

“We had the space available,” said acting mayor Arjun Singh. “It’s obviously not used right now, and we’re still waiting for some discussions to go through in terms of the final use for that building, so it was an ideal position for us to utilize it for the extreme weather shelter, just the gym portion, for the wintertime.”

The temporary shelter is fully funded by BC Housing, and will be operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association.

It is a shame to see a Gazette editorial against the long overdue rise in Ontario’s minimum wage to $15/hour. Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage in our province has sat at $10/hour since 1970. During that time, incomes of the wealthiest Ontarians have grown enormously while the loss of industrial jobs has put more wage-earners than ever before at the minimum. After 47 years, it is time they had real raises.

Your editorial calls for input from small businesses, but almost 60 per cent of the working people who will be affected by this change are employed by big corporations. It is the billionaire owners of businesses, like Loblaws and Walmart, who are paying for the PR campaign against the new law. We are sad to see the Gazette taking their side.

Despite forecasts of job losses, many years of empirical studies indicate the opposite: minimum wage hikes do not correlate with unemployment levels. Real effects include job creation, as low wage earners mostly spend in their local economies. Seattle began phasing in a minimum wage of $15 in 2014 and last April saw unemployment at 2.6 per cent, the lowest in years.

Have you ever taken on additional shifts at work for some extra cash and then failed an exam because you didn’t study enough? Bought a phone for $0 to save money then only to end up stuck in a three-year contract? Signed up for a high-interest credit card without really reading the fine print because it meant immediate access to funds?

This may be how are brains are wired to operate, according to researchers who have been studying the cognitive mechanisms behind scarcity. They say when we’re under financial stress and focused on solving a problem related to money, our brains tend to tune out other information and hinder our ability to do unrelated tasks. And it may explain why some people who are living in poverty can’t seem to get themselves out of it.

A city councillor is the lone voice around the table against moves that could lead to the demolition of a problem residential building in the downtown.

Owned by the Full Gospel Outreach Centre, 925 Central Ave. has attracted hundreds of calls for police and bylaw officers, and by the owner’s admission has had issues with drug dealers and gangs. Downtown businesses have raised concerns about the crime around the site and how that’s deterring people from shopping in the area.

However, councillor Terra Lennox-Zepp is not in agreement with her fellow councillors on how to proceed.

“Demolishing the building does not solve the issues,” she said. “What the city should be spending its money on is ways to reduce crime, not ways to move it to other parts of our city.”

Poverty, especially child poverty, is a huge black mark in my hometown of Surrey and in British Columbia and Canada at large. We know that poverty leads to poor health and social outcomes for children in later years. Poverty is essentially a waste of human resources. It ensures that a segment of the population will not be living up to their potential.

Thousands of people are forced to take low-wage jobs with no benefits or pension to pay the bills. They are unable to pursue their true passion in life, whether that is to go to school or start a new company or volunteer in the community.

Who knows how many future Nobel Prize winners were too exhausted to invent a cure for cancer or AIDS or find ways to clean up pollution because they were trapped working two jobs just to pay for inflated rents and the necessities of life just to survive

Carol Timmings leads the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. During last week’s visit to Kenora, she said poverty is closely linked to poor health.

“If you don’t have adequate income, adequate financial support that absolutely is going to be a huge influencer on how healthy you’re going to be. Whether or not you’re going to have adequate housing. Healthy food to eat,” she said.