EDITORIAL – Where is the Magical Mystery Bus bringing homeless here?

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.


I’m looking for the Magical Mystery Bus that pulls into town on a regular basis and drops off a bunch of homeless people to take up residence on the streets and in the parks of Kamloops.

The bus has taken on the status of an urban legend, a sort of ghost bus that everybody talks about but nobody has ever actually seen. There are, to my knowledge, no photos.

The stories are generally second hand. Somebody told me at the Enough is Enough rally in front of City Hall that he’d talked to a homeless person who said he’d arrived on a bus but there were no details about what kind of a bus.

Where does the alleged shuttle come from? Who owns it? Who drives it? And why is Kamloops the destination? Nobody knows.

It seems to be an embodiment of the belief that homeless folks are being brought to the city to get them out of somebody else’s city, that there’s something in it for somebody.

Regardless of the myth of the phantom bus, though, there are legitimate questions about the burgeoning homeless population. When you see people with suitcases on the grass in front of City Hall or the traffic island across from the Mustard Seed, you wonder.

The question about a possible influx of homeless is more than about suspicious minds; it’s one that needs to be answered in developing strategies for housing and treatment and addressing social disorder. Claiming that the homeless population consists strictly of local people doesn’t cut it.

There are suggestions that they come from all over, from the Coast, from Terrace, from Winnipeg and elsewhere. Some are here on their way home; others may or may not be here because of the services the city provides.

Maybe the Point-in-Time Count will yield useful information but — regardless of stories about a mystery bus — we need to know more about what’s bringing them here.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the 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 daily newspaper editor.  He can be reached at

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.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Where is the Magical Mystery Bus bringing homeless here?

  1. To burden ourselves with knowing where the downtrodden come from is a pure wasteful endeavour. Addressing the various reasons why people become desperate and addicted and homeless would be worth our while.

  2. John Noakes // May 9, 2023 at 10:05 AM // Reply

    Mel, let’s wait and see if “Magical Mystery Tour” gets used (with permission due to copyright laws) in a future PowerPoint presentation……..

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