An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
LONG-STANDING CALLS for complex-care facilities are finally being acted upon by the provincial government; unfortunately, Kamloops isn’t part of the picture.
Four complex-care housing sites will be established, all of them in the Lower Mainland. The objective is to provide services to those who need to straighten out their lives.
Advocates for the homeless have been saying that the answer to problems on the street is about much more than housing, and they’re absolutely right. The objective of complex-care housing is to provide wrap-around services for those who need more than a bed.
People with mental-health challenges and/or substance addictions, for example, would have direct access to treatment. The first four facilities at the Coast will serve about 100 people.
Kamloops could use some of those units — there are about three dozen people here who are in need of them.
Given the differences between the Lower Mainland and our part of the province, putting one of the facilities here would have made sense for comparison purposes.
But there’s another issue that needs to be discussed. Accommodation in the four housing projects will be strictly voluntary. The “voluntary” word is emphasized in every discussion about shelters, housing or treatment centres.
It’s the elephant in the room in the ongoing discussion of the housing continuum. The sad fact is that, while we do our best to provide for our street population, some of those we try to help are out-and-out criminals in need of serious rehabilitation.
There seems to be a broken link between social housing, treatment and the justice system. Why shouldn’t those convicted of repeated crimes associated with their addictions and social conditions be sentenced to treatment?
It’s not about rounding people up and throwing them in jail; it’s about closing the circle.
The Province is to be commended for moving in the right direction but it could do much better when it comes to keeping the streets safe.
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.