‘Real people have been left out in the cold’

The rainy season is upon us and soon winter will arrive.

Thankfully, I’m warm, dry, sheltered – but that can’t be said for everyone living in Parksville Qualicum Beach. I applaud the City of Parksville’s desire to become a ‘hands-on’ participant in supporting individuals taking responsibility for personal transformation through Orca Place.

However, the forced closure of a purpose-built cold-weather shelter with laundry, shower and storage facilities seems both short-sighted and cruel. In making a political statement – ‘no sign of homelessness in my town’ – real people have been left out in the cold.

It may be fine to affirm that this issue has been delegated by city council to the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness under the stipulation that no public or commercial facility can be used – thinking that churches will take up the slack [not considering that thosefacilities are also being used for supportive programs with congregants].

So I wonder is it worth $700,000 to watch individuals struggle in the cold? My prayer is that no ones dies this winter because of city neglect.

Jerrold Paetkau

Manna Homeless Society

Community Chaplain

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