Fear-mongering and Batman aren’t the answer! I concur with the view of the Our Place communications director, that VicPD service call data, (provided to Coun. Hammond re: the city’s 19 encampments and shelters), reflects a false narrative.
As a James Bay resident, I’ve witnessed displacement of unhoused residents to Irving Park, said to have generated 2,000 service calls (or seven per cent of all VicPD service calls over the past three years).
Numbers don’t tell the whole story. James Bay New Horizons Society (located on the city-owned Irving Park property), operates a daily “Seniors Reassurance” program which relies on the support of VicPD to make wellness checks on vulnerable seniors.
Service calls to this location are thus not all of a criminal nature. If VicPD indicated the nature of Irving Park calls and then reported them as a proportion of the total number of service calls to James Bay’s 14,000 residents, citizens might gain a different perspective.
Perhaps they might question why alarm bells are being rung by certain councillors and the media that appear to justify a ‘tough-on-crime’ political agenda. Some might ask whether council members could explore other meaningful actions to address the intolerable plight of our unhoused residents in such a prosperous capital city.
History shows social dysfunction cannot be fixed by scapegoating, segregating, or simply incarcerating ‘unwanted’ people. Only by providing adequate housing as well as physical and mental health supports to all in need can society ensure the safety and well-being of everyone.