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Letter: Beer drinking stunt doesn’t address problems

I want my elected officials to be showing professionalism and leadership

Beer drinking stunt doesn’t address problems

Dear North Cowichan council members:

I am writing as a citizen to say how disappointed I was to see the reports of Mr. Findlay and Mr. Manhas engaging in what I consider to be a political stunt on April 25, 2023.

Just what they were trying to accomplish by sitting in lawn chairs and drinking beer to somehow make a point about the horrific ills of the opioid crisis is beyond me.

Perhaps, they thought themselves to be bringing attention to a social problem about which our community is already all too aware. But even if that is so, and they thought themselves to be engaged in some form of protest, this behaviour does absolutely nothing to address the problems.

As a citizen, I want my elected officials to be showing professionalism and leadership. This stunt is the antithesis of both of those ideals.

Mr. Findlay and Mr. Manhas have access to authority and power beyond what individuals suffering homeless and addiction could ever dream of having. While there are some jurisdictional limitations on municipal politicians, this does not mean that there aren’t significant levers of power within the reach of Findlay and Manhas to affect positive social change. I note that both councillors sit on committees that can influence the social and economic development of the district and region. Furthermore, both have the opportunity to get involved with the Union of BC Municipalities which has the ear of the provincial cabinet and UBCM makes a significant contribution to the shaping of public policy provincially.

I wonder if these two councillors used their time in front of the safe injection site to learn about how misfortune befell these street involved individuals? Did they meet with the outreach workers to broaden their understanding of what they, as municipal leaders, can do to advocate for getting people housed and/or into treatment?

Municipalities can’t do everything but they can do some very significant things. With the control over zoning and building permits, there are huge opportunities to plan the urban landscape in a way that enhances public health and social development. Municipalities have the ability to designate locations for social housing and treatment centres and work with other levels of government to get it built.

These are the kinds of leadership activities that I — again, as a citizen — expect from those elected to represent the municipality where I live. I expect constructive actions to tackle and solve the problems.

Sitting around drinking beer for a photo op just doesn’t cut it.

Carolyn Ronald

North Cowichan