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EDITORIAL – Neighbourhoods must come first in quest for housing answers

Former bus depot. (Image: CFJC file photo)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

AFTER WRITING ABOUT the need for a made-in-Kamloops solution to social disorder, I received a couple of comments of the, “if you’re so smart, how would you fix it?” variety.

If I had the answer myself I’d hang up a shingle and go into consulting. The whole point of the Saturday column was that the solution lies in the collective wisdom of the community and it’s time we got that wisdom together in one place and used it.

But there’s a good place to start that seems to be hard for those in power to acknowledge. Here’s what I mean.

The new shelter at the old Greyhound Bus deport opened last month. It seems to me that, since then, the neighbourhood around the shelter has been disrupted.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. It certainly happened on Victoria Street West and on the Columbia Street hill motel row. The Tranquille corridor has its own issues. Westmount residents near the Moira House shelter are worried it will happen there as well.

The obvious conclusion is that where shelter or ad hoc social housing initiatives occur, the quality of life in the immediate vicinity experiences stress. Needles, abandoned shopping carts, garbage and break-ins become too common. Maybe it’s just a few who give the rest a bad name but we can’t deny there’s a negative impact.

Well, you might say, they deserve a roof over their heads. And that’s absolutely true but neighborhoods deserve peace and safety.

The current strategy, or lack thereof, results in better conditions for the homeless but, too often, worse conditions for those who already live in a neighbourhood. The rights and needs of the street folks are consistently put ahead of neighbourhoods.

So how about we start with this: no temporary shelter or supportive housing shall be located where there is likelihood of a negative impact on the security of a neighbourhood. Then, build a plan from there.

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 (9118 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 EDITORIAL – Neighbourhoods must come first in quest for housing answers

  1. Anne Evans // March 8, 2022 at 9:26 AM // Reply

    As resident of Kamloops I would challenge the new city council to take leadership, think outside the box and set an example for other municipalities who are also experiencing an influx of homeless. One councilor had it right. Lobby the provincial and federal gov’ts to help open long term treatment and training facilities. There are some great ones in BC but the cost is far to prohibitive to the folks who really need it. These folks are part of our society and need help but are often helpless to get it. Addictions change them and take away their self esteem and ability to function to the point that addiction takes over their life. The former Raleigh jail was suggested as a place to put one of these facilities and Tranquille would be another. Run them as the farms they used to be, with a purpose and as a place were our homeless can get the social, medical, physical and phycological help they need on a long term basis.
    One week in rehab is not the answer and is a set up for failure.
    We have a family member who would give anything to get off drugs but is unable to, on a short term basis. As a working class family do we not have the funds to help them get into the long term treatment facility they need and want.
    A lot of the homeless are victims of parents who also had addiction issues so the cycle has to be broken and it can’t be done short term but with vision, planning and determination from all levels of society, it can be done in the long term.
    If we want to attract people to our city, which seems to be the mantra of our current council, we have to solve our social issues before we pledge the dollars to fancy arts facilities, outdoor skating rinks and such,
    A quick drive from the airport along Tranquille Road down West Victoria Street would not exactly be the carrot that invited new doctors and other professionals to our town and then not knowing if a homeless shelter is going to be plunked in the middle of my neighborhood without my knowledge and input would be an added negative. It is time to stop putting a band aid on the problem and actually address it properly, with conviction and dedication.

  2. John Noakes // March 8, 2022 at 7:47 AM // Reply

    A woman who lives in Westmount told me that she and her husband bought their house close to Westmount Park and loved the neighbourhood because it was quiet and family oriented. They are at the point of almost having their mortgage paid off and had been looking forward to staying there and eventually retiring in their home.
    As with many other people, their family dog gets its morning walk along Rivers Trail.

    The spectre of sharps containers being put near children’s playground equipment has changed all of their dreams.
    It seems the incumbents at the horseshoe table at City Hall may have underestimated the power of the voters come election time.

  3. There is no question that society owes a duty of care to those within it, even if some of them are recent arrivals.. However, there is similarly a reasonable question that society has an unlimited obligation to accommodate any and all comers. Many of those who expect accommodation, literal or figurative, offer nothing in return, and were not invited. Like it or not, charity is not an absolute. Even Mother Nature is transactional: no input, no outcome. This issue is societal, not regional or municipal. If work camps are objectionable, avoid them . Canada offers the most beneficent rights available on the planet. As the Romans would say, “Tu um est” ….it is up to you…..society has a duty to help, not to replace.

  4. Jail or treatment was a possibility (a number of people think it is a good idea) but a number of great minds on council shot it down with ridiculous comments/rationale to boot. So there you go.
    The collective wisdom should first and foremost be used to select decisions makers worth their keep.

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