EDITORIAL – Fires, suitcases and tents, and calls of ‘Enough is enough’
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
SO LET’S UPDATE where we’re at.
Seven years ago, a public health emergency was declared as drug-related deaths were on the rise. Today, there are more such deaths than ever.
Homelessness and addictions-related incidents are no longer focused in a few areas of Kamloops. Vandalism and property crimes are rampant not just in the core but in the suburbs. Too often, the knives come out and people get hurt.
The homeless are building make-shift shelters on grassy areas along the main street of our city. People with large suitcases huddle alongside those with shopping carts full of plastic bags.
Fires break out in dumpsters, parking garages, shopping carts, vehicles and landscaped areas. As I write this, there have been at least eight fires around town in the past week and a half. At this rate, there won’t be a juniper bush left in the city.
Speculation as to the cause ranges from isolated incidents connected to homelessness, to an arsonist on the loose.
And what’s being done about this entire situation? We try to de-stigmatize drug use. We establish supervised injection sites. We build more and more housing and set up more and more shelters.
We clean up the proliferation of needles. Businesses clean up excrement from their front entrances, and repair their broken windows as they watch their stock walk out the door. Police do their best to catch bad guys. David Eby sets up dedicated enforcement hubs aimed at curbing repeat violent offenders.
Kamloops City council, desperate to do something, anything, works on a bylaw banning drug use in parks, admitting it probably won’t work.
And none of it is enough. Group after group declares “Enough is enough” and rallies in protest at the collective state of affairs.
Plans are made for an “Enough is enough” protest at the front steps of City Hall. And the beat goes on.
Does that pretty much sum things up?
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired newspaper editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was deeply involved in these issues 25 years ago. In endless meetings with “staff”, community meetings and round table breakout meetings and public forums it became evident there was an agenda.
I have since learned that the destruction of all that our society has managed to build since the enlightenment is the agenda.
Apparently we have been too successful as a people and need to be culled.
So the next time someone tells you what our “policy” is for the problems that are created by the policy that is being implemented to solve those problems perhaps we need ask them to clearly articulate what their endgame policy is.
Mindlessly following “policy” and career paths has led us to the chaos we are now confronted by. It is not “ all good”.
It seems there’s really good money in “helping” to make a bad problem worse. All the virtue signalling and all the outreach has only made things worse for those who pay for it. It’s well past time to declare the current experiment a failure and courageously embrace a new path forward.
The wealth of nations isn’t a cheque from the government. It is the net result of the hard work and passion of the people who produce real goods and services that others willing exchange their hard won surpluses for.
My yet to be born grandchildren are going to still be paying for the excesses and graft of the past 10 years.
It’s time for a new approach.
I’m not an expert on these issues but have determined that neither is anyone in government. They say we have homeless crisis when we have an addiction, mental and crime crisis. We need to open large scale mental rehabilitation hospitals and drug rehab facilities. Ones that hold people until they are no longer a danger to themselves or others. And put criminals in jail. Not sure why our justice system has turned into a legal system but it’s clearly broken. None of this is difficult just expensive. But overall probably no more costly than the province wide distribution of this problem. And I bet any truly homeless ones left can easily be accommodated in subsidized co op style housing.
Shelters are established by organizations to get the homeless out of the cold or heat at night. These folks are turned out onto the streets again at 8:00 am. They then start the congregating in different places.
They congregate in alleyways downtown and sleep behind dumpsters and terrify some residents even though they may not mean to. Seniors are scared to take their garbage to the dumpster.
They have Community Services (who are working extremely hard on this) on speed dial and they RCMP. The folks we are advised to call if we find people sleeping in our exit doorways or trying to climb onto our balconies to sleep or in parkades after breaking in.
While we have empathy and compassion and donate to service providers yes enough is enough.
But really the question why are there so many and how and why did they get to this state in their lives.
I suspect that when the government of the day closed almost all the mental hospitals a few years back we are finally seeing the folly of such an action. The narcotics and other drug evolution further fuels the problem. Police take those with mental challenges to hospitals that aren’t designed for this type of support in scale. So back on the streets they go. Sad
The “no shooting up in parks” bylaw amounts to virtue signaling, while council would not approve the mayor’s earlier motion to do something concrete, namely, looking into moving the 48 West Vic homeless day facility out of city centre, which would actually have reduced use of Riverside Park by drug users. I’m sick of council’s politicking at the expense of the community. Enough is Enough: Noon, April 27 at City Hall.
I hope this isn’t part of the “new normal” with life here in our city.
Our fire department has become emergency medical departments on wheels.
A wildcat walkout, similar to some of the historical postal ones used to hold the public hostage, was staged recently by elected folks who were being paid to attend a TNRD meeting.
Fires, thefts, and vandalism happen now on a regular basis. Businesses have closed and more will likely close because of “social issues”.
If we are at war, who or what is the enemy? Can real help be offered to people who are ensnared by mental illness and addiction to drugs?