Four programs to curb homelessness, crime
I tip my hat to all our local volunteers that have been working on the problems of homelessness and street crime — it is not easy. Our elected representatives from all levels of government have undertaken what can only be described as a minimal reactionary response. A more comprehensive plan is required since the problem in the Cowichan Valley continues to grow — locally and provincially.
If we can agree that leaving vulnerable people on the street is not a solution, I would suggest implementing four different community programs.
1. Those who are homeless due to affordability or availability should be offered immediate ongoing housing support. Could some units in mobile parks or apartment blocks be arranged as temporary options?
2. Addicted street people need more than a needle exchange program. They need to be removed from the street, the environment that perpetuates the drug lifestyle, and given healthcare and rehabilitation — this could take 24 months or longer working with doctors and trained professionals.
3. Neighbourhood criminals and drug dealers must be held accountable for their transgressions of the law. While incarcerated, repeat offenders should be required to complete comprehensive training programs so they can earn an opportunity to become active members of society.
4. Until provincial laws are updated, local RCMP must be given a mandate from our local councils to attack drug houses and shut them down without concern if they can gain a full conviction. We need every local drug dealer to understand that the Cowichan is Valley is closed for drug business and their illegal products will be quickly seized if they come here.
Both provincial and federal governments need to become fully involved on this file. Does it seem like our local MLAs and MP are either hiding or only organizing events to “educate the public” while local RCMP, local governments and our communities remain handcuffed? Dramatic change to the issue of homelessness and drug addiction is critical — we need a leadership plan — with tax money behind it.