LETTER – Statement from the mayor on social issues in Kamloops
March 28, 2022
Statement from Mayor Christian
This past weekend highlighted many social issues in our community that I want to address and discuss. Over the weekend, the downtown McDonalds announced its closure for many reasons, including open drug use and safety concerns; there was an overdose in the public washroom of a popular department store; and there were likely many other instances throughout our community that were not as public.
While this happened here, in our home, unfortunately these things are occurring throughout the province and across the country. The drug supply in B.C. is toxic, and Kamloops is no exception. Sadly, persons addicted to drugs are dying at an alarming rate, and last month, Kamloops had the third highest number in the province.
Drug addiction, poverty, and mental illness are health issues, not criminal issues. Council and I are working together with the City on many fronts to assist, including the following:
supporting additional Car 40 units
calling for a sobering centre
constantly lobbying for more detox and recovery beds for youth and adults
working with the school district on anti-gang and anti-drug messaging for students
conducting research with TRU through the Researcher-in-Residence program on street issues
authorizing an increase in the strength of our local RCMP detachment
working extensively with the Chamber of Commerce and initiating an anti-tagging and graffiti program
constantly liaising with the North Shore Business Improvement Association and the Downtown Business Improvement Association
adding 20 new Community Service Officers and expanded their program to 24/7 coverage of the streets
working on situation tables to discuss individual clients and treatment plans for them with care providers
expanding the Safe and Secure Kamloops Committee into a larger, more inclusive structure to support a safe and secure community with four engagement groups (protective and safety services, social agencies, neighbourhood associations, and business sector)
working closely with and supporting the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), ASK Wellness, The Mustard Seed, and other shelter and social housing providers
lobbying hard for a complex care facility in Kamloops
meeting with our MP and asking for Criminal Code changes
lobbying the Crown Prosecutors Office for changes to the charge assessment standards
supporting CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) talks with neighbourhood associations and with business
working regularly with BC Housing to get more supportive and subsidized housing opportunities for those local residents that are street affected
working at the federal level with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities,
working at the local level with the Southern Interior Local Government Association (neighbouring municipalities)
raising concerns with the Union of BC Municipalities
meeting almost weekly with Interior Health and in particular with their mental health and addictions unit to explore new treatment centre options and care models
working with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc to support the work they are doing on behalf of Indigenous persons in crisis
leading community cleanups of our riverbanks
administering funding to support the Envision shuttle, which provides outreach and transportation to shelters for people experiencing homelessness (operated by CMHA)
administering funding and providing a location to support a day space for people experiencing homelessness at 48 Victoria Street West (April 1 to October 31)—a joint collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous service providers
establishing good neighbour agreements with shelter and supportive housing operators with commitments to site management, risk mitigation, and compliance with the Good Neighbour Bylaw
funding security services and patrols in commercial corridors and centres to help support a sense of safety for businesses and residents
administering funding to support a sharps pickup program that provides employment to people with a lived experience of homelessness and/or substance use—operated by CMHA, ASK Wellness, and The Mustard Seed
serving on the provincial decriminalization table and supporting the Province’s efforts around decriminalization
continuing to administer federal Reaching Home funds aiming to prevent, reduce, and end homelessness
continuing to administer Social and Community Development Grants to address social issues in the community
working with Interior Health to enact heat alert response plans and make facilities available for community during extreme heat events
working with BC Housing and local service providers to offer shelter and relief for vulnerable people during extreme weather events (heat, cold, and air quality)
developing a shelter land use analysis that uses criteria linked to social and community planning principles to help identify areas that may be suitable for future shelter sites
establishing a memorandum of understanding to support a collaborative approach between the City and BC Housing with regard the planning, development, operations, and communications for future shelter, supportive housing, and affordable rental housing sites
In addition, I support both the decriminalization of personal possession and the provision of a safe supply, and I am working weekly with the BC Urban Mayor’s Caucus; yet sadly, conditions continue to deteriorate.
We will not give up.
The things we are experiencing are new to Kamloops and are unsettling, but they are evident throughout B.C., and we will continue to work with all of our partner agencies to curb what is a complex combination of drug addiction, chronic untreated mental illness, and acquired brain injury. We are always open to trying new ideas, and I would invite you to assist us in that regard should there be other approaches we may have missed.
Mayor KEN CHRISTIAN
Institutionalizing people for getting fed up with the madness of Capitalism and the Military Industrial Complex doesn’t solve the madness of Capitalism and the Military Industrial Complex. Why build a mental hospital when you can fix people’s mental health by correcting the issues that are causing mental health problems? Oh right, that would affect the bottom lines of the wealthy *facepalm* I believe that for truly mentally ill we need look no further than the one who capitalizes on other’s grief and then claims ‘mental illness’ of them for being mad about it. In most games that I play other than ‘life’ it is the greifers that get banned from the game, not their victims.
Thirty years ago we were shutting down mental hospitals which started this entire homeless epidemic. If those hospitals were open today we’d have a significantly different homeless and drug problem. In terms of dollars it’s much cheaper to house people in a hospital than a jail. Jail is not an option for a variety of reasons, one that you may understand is that it’s the most expensive and least palatable for for any government. It’s not going to happen so what else are our options?
I agree on Tony’s opinions on the matter. In other words it,s time to remove the rose coloured glasses and start getting realistic.
I feel for Mr. Christian et al.
True, this is not just a Kamloops problem. True it has been years in the making. True drastic actions will need to be taken to avoid even more chaos. But also true lack of courage from authorities will prevent the latter from happening. It breaks my heart to think about all of those problems, it breaks my heart to think of the anguish and the struggles and all of the negatives these individuals face daily but for many addicts it could be argued an overdose, a final overdose, would be the least painful outcome.
Lists like these don’t mean much to me (especially when they include working with the chamber of commerce on anti-tagging and anti-graffiti campaign). You can throw a lot of mud at a wall and nothing will stick. If I recall correctly, the chamber of commerce wanted to deal with it by creating a no-panhandling zone. You don’t solve the problem by trying to hide it.
Look at the experiences of other cites, especially where mistakes have been made. San Francisco is an interesting case study albeit on a much larger scale. Lots of money was spent to no avail. There needs to be a long-term commitment, a long-term plan.
New? Please explain your definition of new as these problems have been growing for over a decade. In fact the BC Coroners 10 year review of drug toxicity which came out earlier this year, reported that in 2016 our healthier services region was 2nd to Vancouver in urban death rate per 100,000 ppl., just 5 percentage pts behind Vancouver. In case you’re wondering if this was just an outlier yr, it wasn’t as we’ve placed 2nd three of the last 6 yrs but maybe this yr we’ll finally snatch that crown which has evaded us for the better part of a decade as we’re off to resounding 15 pt lead thus far. So what was that about new challenges?
The catch and release program. makes conditions worse for all and must be stopped For any and all repeat offenders , A minimum of three months enforced encarceration followed by three months enforced re education and another three months probation with zero tolerance in low cost housing and how to live in this society. Misplaced compassion doesn’t work and only makes things worse .
Tony, the cost of incarceration in BC is $80,000 a yr per inmate. Three months would be $20,000, don’t you think spending that money on programs would be a better use of it?
No !!! We’ve tried that for 30 years and it has never worked. Misplaced compassion is simply permissive of their actions and does nothing to change their ways. How much does a single break in cost ?Or one punch in the face to an innocent 80 year old. ?
any violent act is against the law whether you are mentally ill or not and should be treated the same. If there is nothing done it will be progressive and endless