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EDITORIAL – City council should stick to its guns on social housing security

(Image: CFJC)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

HOW MUCH CONSULTATION is needed before something is done about the security issue around supportive housing in Kamloops?

A week ago, Coun. Bill Sarai presented a motion to require “all currently operating and future transitional and supportive housing options” to provide wrap-around services.

Those services would include 24/7 security, mental health and addictions counselling, and on-site nursing staff.

The motion passed 5-3 with one absent but was quickly followed with complaints from the ASK Wellness Society and Canadian Mental Health Association that they weren’t properly consulted. They characterized council’s decision as unfair and political.

Certainly, it’s political. That’s because the problem of criminal activity around social housing projects requires a political answer.

But Coun. Dale Bass now wants the motion softened. She proposes that council reconsider the original wording to remove the words “must commit to providing” and insert “should provide” and “where appropriate.”

Since Bass voted in favour of the original motion, she certainly has a right to put forward a motion to reconsider it. Sarai is quoted as saying he’s willing to talk about it.

But before council backs down and adopts a toothless policy in order to satisfy critics, it should remind itself of why it felt it should get tough — public safety is at risk.

Sarai and Bass in particular have been calling for action. Enough meetings, they said, let’s get something done.

How much consultation is needed before something gets done? Who will decide when greater security measures are “appropriate” and when they aren’t?

The problem is clear and compelling. It will be a long time before poverty, addiction and mental health issues are fixed. In the meantime, enforcement is a necessary component to gaining control.

Some vague “where appropriate” policy won’t do it. An appeal process wherein a case can be made for exemptions based on the individual situations within housing projects would be reasonable.

But council should stick to its guns.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (8559 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.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – City council should stick to its guns on social housing security

  1. Jennie Stadnichuk // March 8, 2021 at 1:09 PM // Reply

    I think the original motion to require “all currently operating and future transitional and supportive housing options” to provide wrap-around services is clear. Those services would include 24/7 security, mental health and addictions counselling, and on-site nursing staff. When I read this motion I didn’t see the “services” needing to reside on the premises of EACH housing facility. For example if a Social Worker/Mental Health Professional were minutes away it should be adequate to meet the intentions of the original motion. As some of Kamloops Social Housing is on the North Shore, a similar staffing situation could be set up there. Residents could meet with the professionals by making appointments; If emergency situations arise they’d be dealt with as analyzed by the Professionals. In regards to security of local businesses, modern technology is easily available to homeowners as well as businesses at reasonable costs. I am amazed at how many homes have them installed at relatively low cost. In SUMMARY: leave the motion as it is unless ASK Wellness and CMHA can provide specifics they want included or excluded. An obvious question here is Why weren’t they involved in an advance consultation?

  2. John Noakes // March 8, 2021 at 7:25 AM // Reply

    As Spock would say, “logic dictates” there must have been an approval process and a meeting and a paper trail where the development was approved by the Mayor and Council of the day. Were there any stipulations in place or an understanding that things such as on site security and medical care would be provided for the folks who were trying to put their lives back in order?

    Surely, if there was such a meeting and there is such a paper trail, why were these things not mentioned by Councillors Sarai & Bass or supported by such people as Mayor Ken and the more experienced councillors who may have been part of the approval? Would Mr. Kwiatkowski be aware of the approval process for this development?

    My question originally was why the business owners had the onus put onto them for providing their own security when issues of public safety arose? Also at risk are the first responders who make visits to this area of town on a daily basis apparently. This has been a huge burden for the taxpayers and a huge personal burden for the folks in the RCMP especially.

  3. But the criminal activities which really mostly are “unsavoury” activities (drunkenness, high on drugs and public toiletry with the last one mostly because there is no where to go) are happening away from the social housing. Council can tell the agencies all they want but really how can them social agencies, often constrained by budget issues, monitor and abate all them unsavoury issues? How can this council motion even with a metal denture fix a large, complex problem years in the making and getting worse due to the pandemic? Many of the same people wanting tight security now scoffed at the problem then. Many want everything going “private”, including health care. Many don’t want to pay taxes (or very little). Many want a PAC, a rubber track, a bubble over the field and a parking spot always available to them. Who are we kidding? This is a screwed-up society and social agencies can’t fix it. Politicians with integrity, courage and sturdy ideals could. If we could find them.

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