EDITORIAL – Councillors’ arguments against treatment centre were flimsy

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

ONLY ONE VOTE separated the “concentration camp” proposal for the homeless from success this week when it came in front of Kamloops City council.

Voting in favour of establishing a complex-care treatment centre for street-challenged people were Councillors Denis Walsh, Arjun Singh, Mike O’Reilly and Bill Sarai.

Opposed were Councillors Dale Bass, Kathy Sinclair, Dieter Dudy and Sadie Hunter and Mayor Ken Christian.

The unfortunate “concentration camp” description was, of course, provided earlier by Bass, who had already declared her opposition before it even came to the floor for debate. Her comment is illustrative of the misunderstanding of the proposal.

Bass didn’t reprise her “concentration camp” remark at the meeting, but said during the debate that she voted against it because of the costs of providing services at the site of the former Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre and because BC Housing probably doesn’t have an appetite for it. She added a confusing comment on the issue of mandatory attendance.

Dudy said there are many questions that need answering, such as who would build and pay for it, what services would be available, and who would determine length of stay.

Christian based his objections on the mention of Honour Ranch, a facility near Ashcroft that serves uniformed people suffering from PTSD. It’s not similar, he said.

Sinclair based her opposition on the fact the idea didn’t come from experts, whereas Hunter — like Christian — was troubled by the mention of Honour Ranch and suggested the motion showed a misunderstanding of mental illness.

So what if:

  • the motion wasn’t strictly tied to the Rayleigh property but stated “or any other suitable property” and that the concept was based on providing a “wide range of support services”? Well, actually, it said exactly that.
  • BC Housing was asked whether it would participate? Yep, the motion said that, too.
  • questions about who would contribute and what services would be available were part of the proposed study? Again, that’s what the motion proposed.
  • experts were consulted, not just one but several? Sure, of course that would be done.
  • other comparable facilities were looked at other than Honour House and VisionQuest, such as the redevelopment of part of Riverview at the Coast as an addiction treatment centre and mental wellness facility, with the involvement of BC Housing?

Here’s the point. None of the reasons given for voting against the motion holds water. Instead of searching for reasons to oppose the motion, if any one of those five councillors had looked at it from the perspective of searching for something better than the failed system we have now, the motion would have succeeded.

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

About Mel Rothenburger (9504 Articles) 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 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.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Councillors’ arguments against treatment centre were flimsy

  1. Robert George // December 18, 2021 at 5:02 PM // Reply

    Tony Brumells comments are dead on. The present state of affairs cannot go on.

  2. Mel, like it or not, this overall problem facing our community is developing into major news story.
    2022 could be the line drawn in the sand for the well being of the general population vs the well being of those who need real answers to making positive changes in their lives.
    This is old school but address the “recreational” drug lie and we’ll have addressed part of the problem. Don’t do drugs thinking it’s for recreation regardless who uses the phrase.

  3. If you build it, they will come. A safe injection site which actually houses, feeds and provides recreation and community for its tenants would be very attractive too many. In addition the area currently has 10 buses daily going/returning to town. A site such as this would allow users to inject themselves in a safe environment thus removing much of the need to go into the city. If the gov’t actually provided free drugs this would attract many more and not only monitor the use but even help wean those wanting such help. Thefts, policing, ambulatory care would all be dramatically reduced. This is basically what is suggested, why not study this and see what other jurisdictions are doing? The choice was to learn from other jurisdictions success or do nothing and the do nothings prevailed.

  4. Wanda McGuire // December 17, 2021 at 11:54 AM // Reply

    Amen to exactly that. They were opposed to the entire concept in any degree before it even came to motion. Minds were made up and as far as the citizens of Kamloops go based on their opinion, we can put up and shut up. They definitely weren’t of the mind to find a amiable solution. Closed minds and brick walls.

  5. Try try again. Forced encarceration may be the only way to make such a plan successful . Providence R.I has another similar plan that has shown promise .

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