First off, I want to say that as a family man, small business owner and homeowner, I have a major stake in my town — and it is my town. Your town too.
As people who care about our town, it should bother us when others mess with it. What bothers me most is when people with no stake in our town demand that the town have a stake in them. I’m thinking specifically of tent city. Many of the residents of that “city” have made the lifestyle choice to remove the shackles of modern life and live as they want, free. But it’s not exactly free. Someone has to donate real estate for instance, others, bikes and tools. To Victoria’s credit they have finally said no, we won’t pay for your lifestyle, and in the next few weeks the residents of that “city” will be forced to move on.
We have our own tent town going on. Every time I grab a smoothie [at a restaurant just off the Trans Canada Highway just across from the Aquatic Centre] I have to navigate my way through tent town where residents live rent-free.
There is a more important reason for my angst about this reality. My 14-year-old daughter will be attending a school just up the street this fall and I am not cool with the idea of her having to walk through a “town” where residents openly shoot up, sleep with minors and fight on a daily basis. I’ve witnessed all of these behaviours and I know I’m not alone.
Before you write me off as a callous capitalist, it is important for you to know that I spent several years in Calgary facilitating a Homeless Partners program where we spent many hours sitting across from the local homeless and talking with them about their lifestyle choices and soliciting donations to meet their actual needs. We handed out thousands of coats, socks and most importantly, work boots. That’s right, many of the people we interviewed were simply the working poor, hard-working people like you and me who simply couldn’t afford the high house prices. That is a travesty and a disgrace for any town but tent town is not that town, and requires an entirely different solution.
I’d be happy to sit on that committee. Who’s with me?