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Letters July 22: Looking for ways to help homeless people; port workers' wages argument for joining union

An encampment at Topaz Park in Victoria in May. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Rapid response plan needed for homelessness

Re: “A four-point plan to ease the ­suffering on our streets,” commentary, July 20.

Someone to lead us out of the most recent homelessness crisis is a good idea. A homelessness czar. The Czar.

Seriously. Examine what has worked well elsewhere, quickly. Harness academic research to support the effort. Solicit private sector resources to be more than matched by all levels of government. We are all in this together.

Then start interviewing people on the street. Simultaneously, defeat the real estate issue and create a pandemic-style, interdisciplinary rapid response homeless health initiative. Our own Manhattan Project.

Law enforcement must not be part of the problem. So the courts must accommodate the shared objectives, without delay. The police forces must collaborate effectively. They both must serve as models of collaboration for the rest of this initiative.

What does done look like?

1. Mental health, addiction and chronic disease are better quantified locally, and those results are transparent and published widely. A model to be shared elsewhere emerges. Simpler. More effective. The issues become common knowledge.

2. Housing requirements are clarified. Facilities with a reasonable chance of success are established quickly on a trial basis, with the aim to provide evidence of their success or failure. Flexibility in the early stages will help.

3. The health system may not obstruct progress, but will supplement the effort as a top interdisciplinary priority in collaboration with intake, housing and legal areas of focus.

4. The top five weaknesses of this approach are identified within two years, and solutions are escalated as public policy priorities for expedited resolution. If no consensus on the top issues can be reached in two years, the reasons why are clearly articulated and published widely.

5. The Czar is provided a team of 10 additional collaborators, practical and remote office space and ­communications, and a direct reporting relationship with the premier. Local ­mayors provide support.

I don’t mind having a problem as long as I know what it is. Much like everyone directly involved in this issue.

Patrick Arnold


Spending now will save money later

It is a disgrace and inhumane of our past and current government leaders to not have already worked to remedy our homeless situation.

Housing, both long term supportive housing and independent housing, mental and physical health care. It is unbelievable that the people in power can’t see the solution to ending homelessness, drug addiction and the other ills of being forced to live on the street.

I am quite sure they hear from not only CEOs of non-government organizations, but also members of community services regarding the help they need to help resolve this situation.

The situation on Pandora Avenue is a sign of our inhumanity to man.

Please start spending our tax dollars to provide essential services to our fellow men. Money spent will be money saved in the long run.

Ann Maffey

Our Place Society volunteer

Address root causes of homelessness

I read with interest the piece by Julian Daly and Nathan Medd regarding solutions to the resurgent encampments on Pandora Avenue.

As a volunteer at Our Place, as well as Community Food Support and other agencies, I agree with their four-point plan as an approach to mitigating the effects of homelessness. However, as with all of these necessary interventions, it is merely reactionary. It deals with a problem that has already occurred rather than trying to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.

As such, it aims at a moving target.

Just as during the Depression, an inordinate number of unhoused will continue to gravitate toward the west coast for its more livable climate.

So, yes, the city pulled off a minor miracle providing housing for the roughly 500 camping in Victoria parks, but what of the next 500, or the next?

Until we are prepared to address the causes of homelessness, which would involve a reassessment of our economic system, we can (and, I must emphasize, still should) provide only Band-Aid solutions to what should be an intolerable problem.

Matthew Webster


That’s not a plan, it is wishful thinking

Homelessness, addiction and crime have increased all over North America. Governments, charities, nonprofits, philanthropists and ordinary taxpayers have spent billions of dollars trying to fix these problems, but they only seem to get worse.

A “four-point plan” has been proposed by Our Place and the Conservatory of Music to “ease the suffering” on Pandora Avenue and other Victoria streets.

However, in light of circumstances in Canada today, I find that it is not really a plan. It is wishful thinking.

We have a situation in Victoria where there is a severe shortage of medical personnel. People cannot get cancer treatment in a timely manner. I had to wait two years for a hip replacement.

Yet “the plan” asks for vast numbers of outreach programs, lots of counsellors, mental health institutions, addiction services, primary care and much more.

However, “the plan” does not indicate how we are going to find these non-existent workers and services. It doesn’t address who is going to pay for them or how.

“The plan” calls for a range of housing options to be offered to the unhoused. This is naive when you consider that middle-income taxpayers are struggling to find affordable housing for their families. The lack of housing in Victoria is actually preventing couples from having children. It is a crisis.

No person or government body seems to have workable solutions to these problems. We might have to just accept them and learn to live with them. They are not going away any time soon.

The chaos and squalor on our streets has become the new normal. “Wishful thinking” is of little help.

Cheera J. Crow

Brentwood Bay

Why does government let this continue?

The writers have outlined reasoned and reasonable proposals to end the inhumane situation on Pandora Avenue.

These proposals are not novel or “out of the box.” They have been presented to government on previous occasions by many esteemed experts. As noted by the authors, some of the strategies were used successfully in Victoria in 2020.

So the real issue is why does our government continue to offer “endless reasons not to act”? What is the motivation and agenda behind our government’s deliberate decision to keep the addicted and homeless in inhumane squalor, sick exploited and without hope?

Mary Kelly


A strong argument for joining a union

Re: “Longshore remuneration is already healthy,” letter, July 20.

The letter complains that port workers are already paid a lot. What a great argument to join a union! They work!

Perhaps the writer should take up his own suggestion and actually join one, instead of just complaining about them.

Michael van der Kamp



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