Mostly we ignore them as they panhandle. We might think we are generous by giving a couple of dollars. We don’t want to look at them, we are embarrassed. We think: why should we give them anything, they’ll buy drugs or alcohol.
They are homeless due to substance abuse, physical or mental illness or bad luck. They can’t sustain themselves. They need a shelter to help them dry up from drugs, alcohol and the rain, give them a place where they can bathe and wash their clothing. Offer them physical and psychiatric help. Provide them with skills to find a job.
Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre, council and the city wants to legislate to keep them out of sight. By not including Foster Park in the proposed ban on tenting, do Lefebvre and council think Foster Park, a neighbourhood children’s park, could become their tent city. Really? A children’s park? Have they thought this through?
Don’t embarrass yourselves by using your power against those who have nothing. Your attitude stinks. If we and tourists don’t see them we can pretend they don’t exist, right?
Instead, why don’t you use our tax dollars to give them shelter using schools and other buildings that are vacant. You are turning our homeless into Parksville’s refugees, except they can’t ask for refugee status. It is our obligation to help all who are in need, the homeless in our country and the refugees, and not just with a handout but with real skills to survive.
Many people say we need to help our own homeless before we help the refugees. Well now is the city’s chance.