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EDITORIAL – Surely we can disagree on social housing without violence

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE WONDERFUL THING about the society we live in is our freedom to say what we want within certain limits. We can’t engage in hate speech or promote violence but we can fight for change or against change as loudly as we want.

Whoever attacked a young man for tearing down posters at the Kingston Avenue property on which a homeless shelter will be erected obviously missed the memo.

News reports say the 21-year-old man with autism spectrum disorder was removing anti-shelter posters from a fence at the site when he was punched in the face by someone who apparently objected to what he was doing.

At the weekend, Mayor Ken Christian and Attorney General David Eby issued a statement condemning the incident. “While people may have differences of opinion on how best to support community members experiencing homelessness, violence is not a solution,” they said.

The mayor and the attorney general are absolutely right, of course.

The so-called “posters” were photo-copied 8 by 11.5-inch sheets of paper that were, no doubt, run off on a home printer. The wording was overly dramatic but not incendiary.

They were more like rudimentary leaflets than posters. There were a lot of them but they weren’t defacing anything. Once they were posted, though, they no longer belonged to the person who posted them. Removing them amounted to nothing more than a counterprotest.

Posters, leaflets, graffiti, placards and the like have been used as vehicles of protest at least since ancient Rome. So, on the one hand, someone decided to engage in an age-old form of protest, and someone else decided to counterprotest by removing what the first person had posted.

There’s no good reason in the world it should have resulted in a physical confrontation.

There’s much to question about this project, and there will be much to argue in favour of it. Surely it can be done respectfully and lawfully.

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 (8973 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 EDITORIAL – Surely we can disagree on social housing without violence

  1. John, from my naive position plagued with limited information about what is down in the weeds; here on the surface it sounds like this whole problem solving attempt is working from an incremental change perspective rather than a fundamental change. It seems to me that there are mostly like many other items that have not been taken into consideration. Thus, it ignores a rational systems approach. That might be just fine we are satisfied with a possible short sighted solution, I do hope, however, we are looking to come to grips with the whole challenge in front of us. So, I must ask, what is it that we want to do? Is it the intent to piece meal it or to tackle the problem from a macro-perspective?

    John, I hear your concerns and wonder if the approach currently being taken, is taken because it is the quickest and most simple that can be done. You know, get it off my desk and let’s move on. If that is the case, the dominos will start to fall and more problems will appear. What is/are the root(s) of the problem? Your comments suggest we need to look at the whole system. If we do not drill down, the results can be temporary and ultimately ugly.

    • When I walked our dog by there this morning, I measured only 10 short paces from the fence to the drop off at the river bank.
      I was told in a reply to an enquiry I made to an Assistant Chief at KFR Station One that the Kingston Ave. site is not deemed high risk because of flood plain measurements over the last 20 years.
      However, only 2 or 3 years ago, that section of Rivers Trail had warning signs during high river flow that it was not safe to be close to the river bank. I can’t say for sure but the trail may have even been closed for a few days. The most recent was the year of the large log jam at the CN rail bridge.
      You are right on your thought, Len. I’d be surprised if anyone from BC Housing knew anything about this site and I’d hazard a guess that few locals had a clue either.
      Not a safe place during spring runoff but that humble opinion is from a guy who has been put out to pasture & past the “best before date”.

  2. However, Mel, perhaps if the City Powers and politicians had opened the discussion to Kamloopians prior to jumping in without due consult this might not have happened, just perhaps….

      • John Noakes // December 7, 2021 at 4:31 AM //

        The Kamloops Daily News would have run stories about the flood years during the 1990s and until the newspaper closed its doors.
        This site on Kingston Ave. was used as a staging area by the City for stockpiling sand and sandbags. I believe that at least one year saw a large machine there for filling sandbags.
        The city workers of that day have retired and so has some of the common sense to have a place handy for the southern part of the North Thompson (North Kamloops, Westmount and Oak Hills) to get sand bags to prevent flooding from high water.
        By the way, that section of the Rivers Trail had had warning signs of high water the last few years during spring runoff. It is an area prone to flooding……

    • Ien, what might have been glossed over is the future of the sanitation dump that is used by folks who have trailers and recreational vehicles. They use the sani-dump to dispose of the sewage material in the holding tank and then take on water before they leave.
      A rumour is that the sani-dump will be closing pretty soon. The impact of its closing will be felt by people who use this on their way home from camping with destinations in the North Shore, Brock, Westsyde and Batchelor. Public consultation would have given an opportunity for this to come out.
      The sani-dump site at Mission Flats is going to be a busy place if the Kingston Ave. one shuts down.
      Can you ask a question or two, Mel, from someone at the City?

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