We can do more to help homeless

I’ve lived on the outskirts of Parksville for over 15 years and I’m ashamed of the decisions the Parksville council has made concerning shelter for the homeless.

People are scrambling to find accommodation for those on the streets when a perfectly good facility (with 16 beds) in the new Orca Place has been deemed politically unsuitable. Why? Because “we don’t want trouble in our backyard.” The economy, the status quo, political agendas and self-interest lead the conversation yet again.

We live in one of the most privileged areas of the world with more than enough resources to share. And yet we cannot find the compassion, generosity, or political will to care for those in our midst without a home? Of course there are challenges and even risks. I’ve been involved with people for over 30 years as a pastor and the tone always changes when the one in need is a family member. It’s easy to brush aside and judge all the ‘unclean’ segments of society when we keep them at arms length and don’t know anyone from that group. That’s how apartheid flourished in South Africa (where I grew up) and how it continues in Canada.

I’d love to take you to Kotapalii in South East India where one family cares for over 30 orphans in their home with resources that would cause us to hang our heads in shame. Or a project for street kids in the slums of Mbarara in Uganda. In Parksville, while we have so much more in terms of resources, it seems we are among the poorest in the world when it comes to courage, generosity and compassion. Surely, we can do better! It’s never too late for council to change a bad decision – if they want to.

John Cox


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