Ladysmith, population roughly 8,000 souls, has one that’s open.
So does Duncan (pop. 5,000) and Port Alberni (18,000) and Courtenay (24,000) and Nanaimo (84,000). Presumably, this service covers the surrounding areas of these communities.
We’re talking about a homeless shelter. Not even a full-time facility with services that can help some people with the challenges that are keeping them homeless, point them in the direction of health-care services they need, get them a job, a place to live, lovingly push them to a more fulfilling life that no longer includes dependence on government (taxpayer) assistance.
No, we’re talking about part-time shelters that are open during extreme weather only, and offer a bed with a roof for the night and maybe a coffee in the morning.
The Parksville Qualicum Beach region, with a population of more than 45,000, doesn’t even rate a part time, extreme weather shelter.
We’ve heard for weeks now, actually months, from various people involved in social services and government in this area this phrase: “we’re working on it.”
The days and weeks passed and then one of the biggest storms in decades was upon us last week, ready to bash us with sideways rain for the weekend. Still no shelter. Presumably, people are still working on it.
Well, it’s time for less talk and more action. And it may be time to totally re-think this Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness.
It’s important to note the people who have been involved, and may be still involved, in this task force are caring people who want to help the less fortunate of our community. We have never doubted that.
They seem to be lost in process, however. They seem to be forgetting the “task” part of the committee’s name.
For a while, there was momentum. It seemed the task force was at a point where it was ready to pitch a plan for a facility that could not only house people for a night during crappy weather, but provide much more. Now, without even an extreme-weather shelter, we are behind where we were 12 months ago.
We need action, not excuses and meetings and studies. We expect we will hear about an extreme weather shelter in the next few days. The task force and government officials best not try to pitch that as some great announcement. Yes, it’s much needed, but in the bigger picture it just represents a scramble back to the same level of Band-Aid solution as where we were a year ago.
— Editorial by John Harding