An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IT’S SIMPLY MIND-BLOWING that Kamloops has been caught so off-guard on winter shelter for the homeless this year.
Though the sudden drop in temperature, along with some serious snowfall, came a couple of weeks earlier than usual, weather forecasts predicted it. And, certainly, the need to be prepared for winter has been talked about for a long time.
Back in January, City council defeated a motion proposing that a multi-agency plan be in place by mid-September.
Despite that, it seemed as if everything was set, with shelters at Stuart Wood and the Yacht Club scheduled to open last week. But, the Canadian Mental Health Association, which was supposed to operate the shelters, suddenly pulled the plug.
Its reasoning was that it wants to focus on more permanent options. Sounds weak, and surely the CMHA could have given notice a lot sooner. However, it’s the agency’s decision to make and the community is stuck with it.
The winter-shelter situation has been left floundering, though BC Housing promises replacement operators will be found for the two shelters and announced imminently.
Even assuming the shelters are opened soon, the fallout from this mess promises to spread. City Hall is clearly cheesed off, demanding that the provincial government fix things, fast.
And several social agencies, including ASK Wellness Kamloops, have fired off an open letter to various authorities urging action.
No doubt, the NDP government will offer statistics designed to show it’s doing everything possible to address the problem.
In the meantime, credit to ASK Wellness for stepping up with a couple of warming centres, and especially to The Loop for jumping in to provide overnight shelter.
The City brass should resist any temptation to go after The Loop for its decision to open up its premises for that ad hoc shelter when temperatures plunged below freezing. It might have broken the rules in doing so but at least somebody was willing to help.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
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 email@example.com.