EDITORIAL: Next step — land

The city and the homelessness task force expected to meet soon behind closed doors to discuss possible locations for a housing facility

Wouldn’t it be nice to be ahead of the curve for once?

Seemingly every time a government or social service agency builds or creates something, it’s immediately full-to-bursting. It’s a constant game of catch-up.

The Oceanside Health Centre is but one example. A welcome addition to the local health-care scene, there were long wait times and a full parking lot minutes after the facility opened.

There are many ways to look at the impending creation of a facility for the homeless here in Parksville. One of the them is to consider it something that’s forward looking, perhaps a bit ahead of the curve for a change.

Then again, this may be another facility that’s full-to-bursting the day it opens. So many people living on the fringes of society, a day or two away from homelessness, don’t get involved in counts or make their situation known to strangers.

What is certain is the level of angst and consternation that will surface when the city and the local homelessness task force emerge from a soon-to-be-held private meeting and announce a possible location for said facility.

Beyond the usual NIMBY pleas — and not all of those arguments are self-serving or insensitive — there will be many people who believe the city should not be giving away assets for this type of facility. They will argue, with some merit, there are other, more pressing needs for the population of Parksville Qualicum Beach.

Thing is, the city won’t be on the hook for operating costs of such a facility. Its responsibilities would likely end with the donation of land. There may be zoning issues to deal with, but that’s it.

Members of the task force seem to believe the provincial government will get behind (read fund) a facility that provides housing, shelter beds and services. That really can’t happen unless the city comes on board, showing its support by providing land.

From that perspective, it’s the easy way out for the city. During the last municipal election, most of the city councillors and the mayor spoke about the city needing to do something about affordable housing homelessness issues.

While the meat and potatoes of providing services and building housing for the less fortunate of the region is beyond the means and expertise of a municipal government of this size, providing the land is not.

— Editorial by John Harding

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