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 firstname.lastname@example.org.