EDITORIAL: Everything to scale

Just as the homelessness issues in Parksville Qualicum Beach are smaller than Vancouver and Victoria, so is the price tag for solutions

Patience, process and due diligence are best practices for implementing new policy or starting a new project.

There can be limits to patience. One can get lost in process. And due diligence can be used as a stalling mechanism.

It’s been five years since the communities of Parksville Qualicum Beach decided there was an issue here that needed special attention and action. The Homelessness Task Force was born.

At that time, it was a proactive move. A lot can happen in five years.

Through no fault of the task force or the communities and organizations involved, vacancy rates have decreased in the area to a point where one per cent almost looks good. At the same time, there has been no relief — an increase in fact — in rental rates.

Meanwhile, homelessness issues have come to the forefront in places like Vancouver, Victoria and Abbotsford. The courts became involved. Attention from senior governments became focused on these larger communities where tent-city photo ops get a lot of attention, places where crime and addiction are front and centre, more frequent and much more real than little old Parksville Qualicum Beach.

Thing is, everything is to scale. Our issues may look small in comparison to Victoria or Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, but they have the same effect. A tainted water scare here, for example (goodness forbid), may affect a few thousand people, but that would be a large percentage of our population. A few thousand people represents less than half of one per cent of the people who live within the borders of the City of Vancouver.

The trick is to get senior governments to understand or recognize this scale. Yes, our homelessness situation is teeny compared to that of Vancouver or Victoria. However, it is likely to affect a larger percentage of residents here than in those metro areas.

Fortunately, the solutions are also to scale. A few million of our tax dollars sent back to our communities goes a lot further than a few million in Vancouver of Victoria. With a donation of land from a municipality and a $5 million commitment from Victoria and/or Ottawa, we can do a lot more to help the less fortunate/addicted than what that same amount of money could do in the big cities.

— Editorial by John Harding

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