EDITORIAL: Going backwards on the homeless situation in Parksville Qualicum Beach

We are in worse shape than we were a couple of years ago

We have a sinking feeling the region is not making any strides toward dealing with homelessness and affordable housing issues.

In fact, we may have taken steps backwards.

There was fanfare over a $10,000 grant MLA Michelle Stilwell handed to local advocates in April, money we thought would produce a plan for a shelter, affordable housing and support services.

That ‘plan’ was delivered to B.C. Housing in June. It has no drawings, no budgets, no meat, if you will. It contains details about what local advocates would like to see in a facility here, the same information that’s been bandied about for at least a year.

We have a difficult time understanding how the $10,000 was spent and we feel like we were duped into believing this grant was something significant.

In the last couple of years there has been a lot of discussion about issues around homelessness and affordable housing in Parksville Qualicum Beach. It’s all starting to sound hollow right now. Candidates in both the municipal and federal elections spoke about it, but now it just seems like it was a hot-button issue that needed to work its way into speeches and not something anyone was actually going to act upon.

There were meetings and panel discussions. There were presentations to municipal councils where everyone said the right things, but in the end have done nothing. There was a feeling, late last year, that some momentum was building.

That’s gone now.

What’s happened in the past few months in regards to homelessness and affordable housing in Parksville? The city passed a bylaw outlawing camping in certain parks, allowing it in others, with strict conditions. That had some neighbourhoods up in arms. The city said it would provide some land for a homeless shelter/affordable housing complex. Months after that announcement, not a peep from city hall.

Then we learned last week the Homelessness Task Force does not have a facility for its extreme weather shelter this winter.

The sum total of progress on issues surrounding homelessness in this region? We are worse off than we were a year ago. That’s so very disappointing.

— Editorial by John Harding