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BEPPLE – Shouldn’t homeless people have a place to sit, too?

Sitting at the homeless facility. (Image: Nancy Bepple)

THERE ARE THINGS we do because of bylaws, and then there are things we do just because they are the right thing to do.

We have bylaws for dog licenses, noise, and unsightly premises.

But somethings we don’t need bylaws for because people just do the right thing.

Have you noticed that, even though there are no bylaws for public seating, pretty well everywhere you go, businesses provide some.  Go to a bank, a dentist office, or a hair salon.  They all have seating for people waiting for service.  Go to a restaurant, a theatre lobby, or a tire store.  Chances are they have seating for waiting customers as well.

City of Kamloops facilities are no different.  Go to Kamloops City Hall, or their other offices, such as Development Services or Public Works, and you will find seating in their waiting areas.  Go to City playgrounds, splash parks or hiking trails, and there are benches.  Take a bus, and you’ll find benches along the route.

Public seating in private businesses and in City of Kamloops venues is the norm.  It’s not there because of bylaws.  It’s there because it’s the decent thing to do.  People can only stand so long, and sitting on the ground is usually difficult or uncomfortable to do.

Pretty well all public facilities of the City of Kamloops have seating for the public waiting for service or using the facilities.  It’s not surprising.  There isn’t a bylaw saying there should be seating.  It’s just the decent thing to do.

Which makes it all the more surprising that there are no benches at the storage and laundry facilities for homeless people in Kamloops at First Avenue and Victoria Street West across from City Hall. The City of Kamloops provides the building and the funding for the service.  The City pays a non-profit agency to run the service, but it is clearly a City service.

On any given day, people can be seen sitting on the sidewalk in front of the building.

Some are waiting for their turn to pick up or drop off their belongings.  Others are waiting to see a nurse.  Some wait for showers, washrooms or laundry services.  Others are just waiting.

There are no benches, so when they wait, they’re sitting on the sidewalk.  They could stand.  But it’s no easier for them to stand for long periods of time than for anyone else to stand for long periods of time.  So they sit on the ground.

Not providing seating sends a strong message to them that they don’t belong there, that they should move on.  Except that the City has specifically designed the service for homeless people in our community to use that requires people using it to wait.  If the City can provide seating for people waiting for other services, shouldn’t they provide seating for homeless people waiting for services too?

Seating is not required to be provided.  There are no bylaws saying it is a requirement.  It’s just the decent thing to do.

Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.

About Mel Rothenburger (7704 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on BEPPLE – Shouldn’t homeless people have a place to sit, too?

  1. Beverley Campbell // September 17, 2020 at 11:00 AM // Reply

    In short, a resounding yes, and the seating should take place in their own little house built on crown or town owned land, community kitchen provided, cooking done by volunteers, community toilets and showers, imagine it, the pleasure of having your own safe little home with a bed and a comfy chair, lockable and safe, why oh why can’t we envision this.

  2. Jennie Stadnichuk // September 16, 2020 at 5:58 PM // Reply

    Great article Nancy1 It seems the City needs a friendly reminder (push) to do the right thing. One other example is a letter written earlier today by “Anonymous” speaking to the Downtown area. Not enough services for folks needing them. Does anyone know if the City (Council or Administration) reads Mel’s column? they should!

  3. A very good point, Nancy. Only thought by the thoughtful.

  4. Nancy is dead right ! One of my wishes is that Costco,the busiest place in town other than the local booze outlets,has no place for us old guys with bad backs sore feet and weak legs to sit and observe all the funny looking people as we wait for the wife.
    You,re dead on about Kamloops roads. The city should have a dump truck out every night with an insulated box and enough asphalt therein to last till the end of shift and 2 or 3 people,saying guys is verboten now,a rake and a tamper. You betcha.

  5. Nancy
    People in Kamloops would probably donate the
    benches in memory of a loved one who passed
    away.
    There could be benches at other places for to for anyone who needs a rest or just a place to sit and think. Like 3rd ave. Hiking up to the hospital.
    You are the perfect person to start a bench campaign. I will help.

  6. I agree seating should be provided. Precast concrete benches made in house by the City when there is spare moment at the shop. Also, seating, shelter and a useable garbage can should be provided at all bus stops too.
    Also does anyone care why almost all roads in Kamloops look like they have been bombarded? The short of this one is…the millions regularly required to “refurbish” them.

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