PENINSULA letter: We’re all affected by homelessness

I have often wondered what would we do here in Sidney if the homeless community decided to move here.

I have often wondered what would we do here in Sidney if the homeless community decided to move here. There are some clear advantages to Sidney over downtown Victoria, especially in the good weather months.

We have lovely waterfront and beaches to enjoy, clean sidewalks with lots of benches, a caring population that isn’t jaded to street people yet, excellent dumpster opportunities at our food stores and restaurants, and non-gated sleeping alcoves. I’m not being facetious here, nor sarcastic. Our beautiful little seaside haven is a wonderful place for anyone to be.

Homelessness can happen anywhere to just about anyone. The very fact of being homeless means you can go wherever your homelessness can survive. Victoria has a homeless ‘industry’.  There are numerous services and organizations that try their best to alleviate the ongoing tragedy that homelessness brings to our lives … and I mean all of us.  One way or another, we are all affected to some degree.

We elect governments to manage these things.  We are a very fortunate population here to have so much for so many of us. We can easily afford the cost of managing this and many other problems that will always continue to need our attention. To ask the people of any community to just randomly help and give a hand up to people is at best a heartfelt appeal for a vague solution to a hugely complex situation. We need to legislate effective help. I don’t mean some draconian, heartless laws. We need practical guidelines, rules of the road. And the road has to lead somewhere that works.

We need to let those we empower to serve us all know that this is a core issue for their political survival if not just the right thing to do. Will we do this? Go look in the mirror and ask yourself directly … it’s about political will.

This isn’t a subject to be solved in a brief (though obviously caring) editorial, nor in three sentence ‘solution’ responses by readers, although these things both get the dialogue going. Let’s keep it going. We as a small community are not equipped to solve this problem. It’s bigger than us but it’s not bigger than the governments we pay for. It’s up to all of us to decide what kind of a world we are voting for and paying for. I have often wondered what we would do.

Brian Trotto, Saanichton

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