A tale of three cities
Mayor Sebring’s account of his conversation with his counterpart in Langford on its success in handling the homeless was indeed illuminating. His optimism in having it serve as a model for his own council to follow is probably less well placed.
The Langford model is a private sector initiative that produces mixed market housing that, through its construction, provides employment for a vulnerable sector of society. This is a straightforward method of directly addressing the root cause of the difficulties faced by many in this grouping. Its outcome seems obviously successful in the reduction of their numbers. This seems to be achieved without the use of taxpayers’ funds and with the advantage of an efficient and rapid municipal approval process that allows projects to proceed as quickly as the market asks.
Programs favoured by members of the mayor’s council and by their colleagues in Duncan seem aimed at enabling the continuation of drug addiction, unemployment, and other forms of social dislocation. Their preferred solution is warehousing people who are disadvantaged by temporary circumstances in long term facilities, built by the taxpayer, managed by a favoured organization, and placed in entirely inappropriate parts of the community.
The Langford solution is simple, effective, and economical. The North Cowichan and Duncan councils’ variant is complicated, designed to continue rather than solve the problem and needs a major and continuing commitment from the municipal taxpayer.
Good luck Mayor Sebring. You will surely need it in the face of your local town council colleagues who, so far, are convinced that their way is better.