Talk and studies won’t help homeless crisis
It’s disturbing to see chronic homelessness is still alive and well in our Cowichan region, again prompting potential use of McAdam Park’s fieldhouse as a warming station.
I remember it was used years ago, while local churches opened their charitable doors to our growing legions of homeless people. When our $8-million Warmland House opened in Duncan, thanks in large part to local MLA Doug Routley’s lobbying, I knew its cold-weather beds and 25 apartments upstairs would soon be inadequate. Sadly, our local leaders have done little to continue addressing our homeless crisis mired in drug abuse and other issues as various tent camps pop up around Duncan.
Social Planning Cowichan’s study in recent years shows some 2,000 homeless folks in our valley. Many seem invisible, living along the river, in parks and dumpsters, in bush camps and couch surfing. The past summer’s tent protest in downtown’s Charles Hoey Park sent another warning about homelessness to city councillors, who simply dismantled the tents, disposed of needles and hoped the problem would magically disappear.
The province has also downloaded homelessness on to local councils — including North Cowichan and our CVRD board — who haven’t the funds, staff, nor seemingly a real desire to bravely address this problem continually, not just during cold weather or when protestors surface. Shameful.
Local leaders need a real plan for truly affordable housing, more front-line shelters, community outreach, drug treatment, food programs and counselling for Cowichanians left with neither homes nor dignity — along with potential mental health issues and drug problems. Unfortunately, more talk and costly studies won’t make our terrible homeless crisis vanish.
Peter W. Rusland