An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE SHELTER EMERGENCY continues and doesn’t seem likely to be resolved before the end of winter.
Two of the three shelters proposed as replacements for temporary quarters have yet to opened. One of them, the Kingston Avenue modular shelter, appears to be quite a way off.
Winter shouldn’t have been unexpected. Cold spells came earlier than usual but the need to prepare in advance didn’t require a crystal ball.
Nevertheless, BC Housing and City Hall have been talking about the emergency, as if the shortage of shelter spaces came as a big surprise. This “emergency” has even been used by BC Housing as an excuse for buying up supportive housing units and leasing property without consulting the public.
The obvious need to improve planning came up at Tuesday’s City council meeting and the way it was handled might provide a clue as to why things sometimes happen the way they do.
After several days of hype about an upcoming notice of motion from Councillors Sinclair, Bass and Hunter, it turned out there was no real notice of motion at all, just some verbal discussion. Council didn’t know whether it should be turned into a notice of motion, dealt with in the moment, or referred to a meeting scheduled with BC Housing next week.
Besides that, there was angst over leaving the impression that staff hadn’t been doing a good job thus far, and that community agencies who deal with homelessness might be offended, and that BC Housing might get mad, and so on.
Finally, it was crafted into a proper notice of motion for discussion later in the month. Basically, it calls for two annual shelter plans — one for the summer months and one for winter.
That makes perfect sense, without any nonsense about whose egos are going to be offended. At least council has recognized the issue — hopefully it will avoid these so-called emergencies in future.
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.