LETTER – The solution no one wants to say out loud

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

As the recent fires demonstrate, it’s only a matter of time before the myriad bullshit associated with homelessness causes significant destruction to homes and properties.

Yesterday, I saw a Facebook post showing a woman’s car and front windscreen caved in – a homeless person walked in front of her as she was driving in Kamloops. This sketchy behaviour happens daily.

We must admit that the activist approach to addressing “homelessness” is not working. If it were, we would see decreasing data indicators, and a reduction of all the societal ills and chaos these individuals bring with them. The current approach has cost billions of dollars over decades.

Other states and cities have failed harder than we have. Yet we continue with the same tired approaches. Interior Health wants to wait and see what happens before signing off on the bylaw proposal. We’ve already seen what happens. Decriminalization has been the de facto standard for quite some time, as enforcement was rare even prior to the change.

If you, Interior Health, or any other person wants to see what happens, look to Portland, Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco and other cities to witness chaos on a grand scale, enabled by the same tired policies that Interior Health and elected officials are championing. EMT and fire responders shouldn’t be run off their asses every day injecting Narcan into drug addicts and putting out encampment fires.

First, let’s dispense with the term homelessness – this is a euphemism for open air drug scenes, untreated drug addiction and mental illness.

Having a home has very little to do with the cause of the chaos we see around us, demonstrated simply by the fact that offering a home to these individuals will not resolve these issues. As we have seen recently in the DTES, many refuse offers of shelter, claiming that SROs are dirty and shelters are not safe – as if the sidewalks are?

People will still abuse drugs and die in private. Someone in a home will not walk down to the safe injection site or get their baggie tested. People will still commit crimes to feed their habits. “Safe supply” is another play on words. Less-lethal is more accurate. Poison cannot be made safe. New vile and vicious substances are arriving on our streets.

The second admission we must make is that the actions of most of these individuals are incompatible with the norms and expected behaviours of our communities. For too long the needs of these individuals have superseded the needs of the greater good. Societies function because the rule of law is respected.

We are regressing back to a Wild West mentality where anything goes, except our sheriff is nowhere to be found (maybe smoking meth behind the saloon). But in this Wild West you can’t carry weapons to defend your homestead or person, while photos on local Facebook groups show homeless addicts with axes, knives, steel pipes and machetes parading around town.

I had a talk with my parents yesterday. They are afraid to go out into the community. This is madness, considering that our taxes are paying for the maintenance of addiction and the spiralling chaos in our streets. They worked hard all their lives and deserve better.

Would any respectable parent raise their child by allowing them to consume whatever they want and act in any manner they pleased without consequence? Would we treat alcoholism with more alcohol while turning a blind eye to drunk driving? Did we encourage smokers to maintain their habits? Did we allow smoking on airplanes and buses? Did we project victimhood at the expense of personal responsibility?

Stigma has held a purpose since ancient times. But here come the ivory tower academics and woke activists thinking they know better. They don’t. If Interior Health thinks they have clever ideas that haven’t already failed in other jurisdictions, they’re extremely naïve.

Here is the pragmatic solution that no one wants to say out loud:

  • The enforcement of laws with consequence for all offences must be reestablished immediately. Arresting individuals must be used as a point of entry for involuntary treatment for drug addiction and/or mental illness. Those who can’t or won’t attend treatment must serve full and appropriate prison time for the crimes they commit.
  • Individuals on the street with drug addiction issues and/or mental health issues must attend involuntary treatment in dedicated facilities. There can be no choice in the matter. If you are living on the street and addicted to drugs, you are not capable of making informed decisions, and like an Alzheimer’s patient, you will be confined for your own good and for the safety of the community at large. We would not stand by and let people self harm by cutting themselves repeatedly. We wouldn’t allow EMTs rush over time and time again to stop them from bleeding out. We would confine them for treatment.
  • Individuals setting up encampments must remain on designated land with 24/7 security and basic facilities. Individuals attempting to camp outside of these designated areas will be considered in violation of the law, and will be subject to the first two bullet points.
  • All shelters and housing must be at city limits or in areas where residential neighbourhoods exist. Service providers funded by the public must show meaningful results or lose funding.

Homelessness is not a crime. Stealing, drug possession and use, assaults, menacing, carrying knives, guns, threatening behaviour, illegal camping, fires, leaving fentanyl in a playground, shooting and trespass are. These behaviours are not compatible with society as we know it. Let’s get them the help they need, right now, and give them a chance to integrate back in. If they can’t or won’t, it’s not our job to tolerate or pay for this madness any longer. Billions of dollars wasted, and for what?

The future of our communities depends on the choice between order and chaos. Between personal responsibility and anything goes. Between common sense and woke ideology. Unfortunately, all we have are spongey elected officials too scared to say out loud what we all know.


About Mel Rothenburger (9634 Articles) 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 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.

17 Comments on LETTER – The solution no one wants to say out loud

  1. 3rd Grocery Cart on the left, Mission Blvd, City Of Angels, CA, // May 24, 2023 at 8:43 PM // Reply

    Homelessness isn’t just one problem… It’s a multitude of issues.. And every major city is dealing with it.. Red and Blue States alike..

    Most of California’s homeless population are on the streets because rents are higher than incomes.. Ten percent of fast food workers in California are homeless.. Why? Because base minimum wage doesn’t cover rent, much less food, gasoline, healthcare, gasoline, etc..

    25 percent of the unsheltered homeless had a severe mental illness and 14 percent had a substance use disorder.

    “Newsom signed CARE Court Into Law, Providing a New Path Forward for Californians Struggling with Serious Mental Illness.” Passed in the Legislature with overwhelming support, CARE Court is a first-in-the-nation framework to empower individuals suffering from untreated schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders… That might take care of 25%..

    Let’s suppose we incarcerate the 14% drug abusers… (Presuming that all 14% are using drugs that are actually illegal and not just marijuana or alcohol..)

    That still leaves 61%..

    It’s OK to be concerned about the homeless issue, but a kneejerk ’round em up and shoot em!’ attitude is absurd.. and it isn’t a fix..

  2. The problem starts at home…the gov needs to give power back to the parents so that all of these self absorbed children can b properly educted and disciplined and grow up to be reasonable adults but a sense of purpose. Not a sense of entitlement

  3. You must be a millennial…many of our current homelessness and crime are are a result of the government taking away parental rights to disciplining their children so the millennials can think they can do whatever they want whenever they want and nobody’s going to punish them and with everybody tippy toeimh around everyone else for fear of insulting them or offending them. That’s where the problem started and that’s where it should end. Putting people on designated land and trapping them is not going to help the situation .disciplining them when they’re teenagers and teaching them that they have to be respectful to their elders is what needs to come back. You didn’t see this in the ’60s 70s and ’80s at all. and locking up elders because they have Alzheimer’s really. You don’t think maybe having family help and having a supports would be more of a better solution for that person rather than locking them away like there’s some common criminal. I think you need to get a grip on reality 2000s and 202
    Come on 0s

  4. Lets Put P.Curtis’s ideas and systems in place and working NOW!
    Well thought out, more than enough compassion and care put into the plans to execute this process. Consequences for crimes and bad/poor/ unsociable. behaviours.These people’s poor choices , yes they made choices, are not our communities responsibility to bare from now till the end of time. The taxpayers and law abiding citizens of our communities deserve to get our cities back for our enjoyment and benefit! Sorry but when you contribute nothing, you should not be “handed the keys to the city”, so to speak, at the detriment of the people that did the contributions. This plan(P. Curtis) may not be perfect, but it is a hell of a good starting point! Clearly what has been tried in at least the last 10 years or so,IS NOT WORKING! Long past time to at least try another approach to this escalating problem.

  5. Jason Barber // May 2, 2023 at 10:52 AM // Reply

    I couldn’t agree anymore. Please let’s get this going. This must happen

  6. I couldn’t agree more. Saw my brother enabled for years. After numerous overdoses he is confined to a hospital bed, in a diaper. Not a vital member of society, but a shell of himself. When he was in a mental health facility or jail was when he did the best. Did we want him there, no. I will say that at least he was able to walk, and do basic self care tasks. Now he is an invalid. This isn’t compassion and nonsense to those who say it is!

  7. dave kelly // May 1, 2023 at 6:39 AM // Reply

    We need to re-open Riverview Mental health facility and a few others. It is too dangerous to have the mentally ill and drug addicted to be walking the streets. As a society we have a obligation to protect these people and the rest of the citizens of the community. This means when the Mentally ill and drug addicted who repeatedly commit crimes they are incarcerated and released when drug free and no longer a danger. There is no other solution period.!!!

  8. Will mention this one more time ,,,,Guardian Angels from New York USA,,,its a system that has worked for over 20 years.
    Take your city back if they can do it so can small town Kamloops.
    Stop wasting your time bitching and complaining.

  9. Sheryll Smith // April 29, 2023 at 2:18 PM // Reply

    We’ll said.👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

  10. Elaine Dafoe // April 29, 2023 at 12:12 PM // Reply

    At Councils request , RCMP arrest the dealers and keep them in jail until their court date. Judges sentence the dealers to a much longer period of time. No drugs will get to the street for significant period of time. Repeat.
    Problem solved.

  11. Debbie Reeds // April 27, 2023 at 9:42 PM // Reply

    Build it & they will come is utter nonsense….. tired of wasting tax payers money. I don’t get a raise every 2 mos to pay for all this bs….pension is pension…stop the madness

  12. Sheila Park // April 27, 2023 at 1:43 PM // Reply

    I live downtown so I know of the issues affecting our community with the homelessness and drug issues.
    Politicians are not responsible for this mess – they are working to provide more shelters and build more housing and provide more services and it seems endless.
    As communities we have to get to the “Why and How? and as citizens and family members we have to work to prevent more of our residents ending up this way. We need to work together.

  13. ErnieErnie Beadle // April 27, 2023 at 12:25 PM // Reply

    Great comments 🙏

  14. Howard Jolley // April 27, 2023 at 8:39 AM // Reply

    Well said. Another major problem is the one where some cities, Vancouver for example, get rid of some of their problems by shipping them to other centres like Kamloops. Also the “if you build it, they will come” attitude amongst some of our politicians.

  15. Kelsey Clovechok // April 25, 2023 at 6:24 PM // Reply

    Hi everyone,

    I am the person who had their windshield smashed and bumper crushed by the homeless meth head. Of course, they get to walk away with zero consequences and I’m left with a ruined vehicle and immense amounts of trauma and PTSD. I used to be empathetic to the “people experiencing homelessness”, but now that my life has been so severely impacted, I’m blind with rage and want them gone. This city has become an absolute cess pool.
    Besides my car being destroyed, I have had to step over people who have OD’d at the Riverside Pickleball courts, as well as watch several people get revived outside my work window. As well as one of them setting themselves on fire.
    Wake up government and do something. This is pathetic.

  16. Kudos to P. Curtis for stating what the vast majority are thinking. We are sick and tired of shelling out billions of dollars of our hard earned tax money to a bottomless pit. There have been absolutely no improvements to the situation on our streets. It is time our elected officials realize that the ones who pay their salaries are fed up and demand change not rhetoric. Sometimes compassion comes along with toughness and consequences. Mandatory treatment needs to become the standard.
    Maybe it is time we all stopped keeping our thoughts under wraps for fear of being labelled as uncaring and heartless and started telling our elected officials what we want. Safe streets, mandatory help for addicts and harsher time for offenders.

  17. Dennis V Isfeld // April 25, 2023 at 8:17 AM // Reply

    Mr/Mrs/Ms Curtis stating what the silent majority is thinking. The country (all politicians) ought to start right now enforcing our existing laws for the safety of the majority. Stop this mandy pandy nonesense.

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