Derek Giberson believes in building a better Oshawa by dealing – right now – with issues like homelessness, livability of the city, growth in arts and culture, and housing prices.
Giberson, a Ward Four City Councillor, says one of the biggest issues he sees in Oshawa is homelessness.
“I think sometimes when people see it in their own community, they think that there is some catastrophic failing by Oshawa or Oshawa politicians when the actual root of the homelessness problem is 25 years of neglect from all levels of government because of the affordability of housing,” says Giberson.
The housing market has skyrocketed during COVID-19, making home ownership or rental units unaffordable to more people. Giberson wishes that could change.
“Part of the issue not only does it create abject and quite offensive visible homelessness, I think it is offensive as a society for us to see anybody sleeping rough, sleeping in tents,” says Giberson.
Giberson joined City Council in 2018. He says one of the main responsibilities is making decisions a lot of people don’t have the guts to make.
Giberson says there are a few ways to examine issues when making a decision on council.
“You could chase whatever is popular but then you’re only thinking about your political skin at that point. You can read the room and make the decision that’s best for your career but that’s not the politician I am,” says Giberson.
“Your job is to find balance. Listen to what you hear from the community but also what you don’t hear in that moment.”
During his three years on council, Giberson has made it his mission to make Oshawa a better place.
Giberson is also the Board President of the Back Door Mission for the Relief of Poverty. Historically, the Back Door Mission is a drop in, making things like a lunch easily accessible for people, no matter the situation they’re in.
“It was truly a community hub,” says Giberson.
Now the Back Door Mission has taken on a whole new life due to the pandemic. They now share partnership with eight other entities including Simcoe Street United Church, Oshawa Inner City Health Collaboration and John Howard Society.
It offers lunch seven days a week and has 24/7 washroom accessibility to get people on a continuum whether that’s housing or care, says Giberson.
Giberson graduated in 2006 from Durham College with a journalism diploma. He says he looked around a bit for a job in journalism.
“I had a young family at the time, the idea of relocating to small town rural areas where a lot of the entry level jobs were, wasn’t feasible at the time,” says Giberson, “so I redirected my work to the music industry.”
Giberson worked as a music director, arranger, and producer but also plays as well.
Due to the pandemic, he hadn’t played until about a month ago. Giberson has played with a classic rock cover band called Horshack based out of Toronto for about nine years.
“I didn’t want to full boar jump back into the industry when there are colleagues of mine who are challenged to find ways to start working again. I’d rather see them take the work opportunities,” says Giberson.