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ROTHENBURGER: City has a Hobson’s Choice – will it be hockey or homeless?

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

HOCKEY OR HOMELESS? That appears to be the choice right now when it comes to Memorial Arena.

Hockey kids are shut out of the arena while BC Housing looks for alternative accommodation for 50 homeless folks as winter approaches. It’s hard for anyone to argue that those 50 people should be kicked out into the cold in favour of the normal use of the arena for recreation, but some history is in order.

In May of 2020, with the pandemic raging and hockey suspended, it seemed like a good idea to turn the arena into a temporary shelter. It was supposed to last for a few weeks, maybe until the end of June.

More than a year later, the arena was still in use as a shelter, and City council unanimously extended BC Housing’s lease on the building, indefinitely. What else was council supposed to do? How do you vote to give the boot to homeless folks who need a place to lay their heads at night?

But it’s now October and there’s no sign that BC Housing has been able to find an alternative. There are several private options but they would have to be properly configured with washrooms, kitchens and storage facilities, and who knows where BC Housing is with that?

The agency hardly needs to feel any sense of urgency since it now has no deadline.

One can’t help but think back to the City’s botched application for provincial COVID funding that could have provided a million dollars more than was received. Kelowna got a lot more of that money and has put a good piece of it into temporary shelter for its own homeless population.

So what to do? Nothing, really, other than wait on BC Housing. In the meantime, all our City fathers and mothers can do is try to figure out how they got into this mess, and how to stop it from happening again.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

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 (8485 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.

4 Comments on ROTHENBURGER: City has a Hobson’s Choice – will it be hockey or homeless?

  1. randy gizikoff // October 12, 2021 at 7:42 PM // Reply

    Maybe city hall could be used as a temporary homeless shelter, evenings and weekends it sits mostly empty anyway, as well, perhaps most of the staff could likely work from home I would think, those who needed to be on site could be accommodated at the arena, and as for our elected officials, same thing, they could also use the arena for council meetings as it is a large venue. In this way the homeless folk currently staying at the arena would continue to have a place to stay. This would allow the sports citizens, everyone really, the ability and opportunity to utilize the arena facility.

  2. Hockey or dilemma: Perhaps one or the other right happen, but in the *interim*, the city could review a possible alternative that could fit the ‘kids’ into the rink times at McArthur Island hockey rinks.

  3. Botched grant application, lack of wholesome financial oversight, unexpected but avoidable (and costly) land remediation debacles (apparently no lessons were learned from the Aberdeen hills ground water issues), ongoing frivolous landscaping enhancements, questionable roadways remediation practices, I see where millions end up and there is no stopping…

  4. Good article, Mel.

    Having seen the mess called “home” for so many folks on the North Shore, I was supportive of developing the old Fortune Motel into accommodations. Correct me if I am mistaken, but it looks like not so much as a hammer or a cleaning rag has been lifted to get anything ready at that place.
    The other day, I went to McDonald’s on the North Shore and again saw tents pitched in the parking lot owned by Northills Mall. There was garbage strewn all over the place and it was a horrible mess.

    So, I think that some tough questions need to be answered by the folks sitting at the Horse Shoe Table as well as the staffers who have University degrees and are making in the neighbourhood of $150,000 per annum per copy.

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