OPINION: Now is the time for extending helping hands

Topic of a cold-weather shelter in Parksville continues to heat up as temperature outside drops

Now is not the time for pointing fingers. Now is the time for extending helping hands.

The topic of a cold-weather shelter – or lack thereof – in Parksville continues to heat up as the temperature outside drops.

In the Tuesday edition of the PQB News, we carried a story (‘Concern heightens over cold-weather shelter situation in Parksville Qualicum Beach’) that has garnered plenty of reaction.

Many were concerned that we are closing in on November without resolving the issue of a dedicated cold-weather shelter. Others, tired of what they claim are rising crime rates and endless handouts, are less concerned.

Reasonable discourse too often degenerates into name-calling, people simply get entrenched in a position and nothing gets done. Strip away all the ‘he-said, she-said, blame the city, it’s their own fault’ rhetoric and you’re left with the potential that people in our community may not have a warm roof over their head.

Regardless of any potential ‘side’ you may be on, is that what we want in one of the richest societies in the world?

We were struck with a comment from a lifetime local resident who has slept on the streets of Parksville for the past four years.

“We’re not accepted at all here, they’re trying to run us out of town — they don’t have any heart it seems like,” he said. “A lot of change needs to happen, that’s for sure.”

READ MORE: City of Parksville buys 222 Corfield site, now sole owners

How that change comes about is something our leaders – local and beyond – will continue to address. Given the mood of politicians and the electorate about expenses, nobody should be optimistic that financial support wll increase anytime soon.

But it’s not a problem that’s going away. The Island, because of its mild climate, has always attracted a larger than usual number of indigent people as they seek fairer weather. But clearly it’s still not ideal, as winter includes significant rain and wind and sometimes drops into sub-zero temperatures.

People forced to live outside through the winter are going to be making more hospital visits.

Not being able to stay warm and dry over an extended period takes a brutal toll on personal health.

And that will surely cost the taxpayer who contributes to each level of government much more than the potential bill for a shelter.

There is value, moral and otherwise, in supporting the more marginalized members in our community.

Higher levels of government too often seem content to download responsibilities on the smaller communities. Politicians in those communities get the most backlash from their consituents regarding the issue.

It’s a nasty cycle.

More equitable methods of distributing funding through all levels of government must be found.

But for now, our thoughts should be fairly straightforward: let’s do what we can to keep all of our citizens warm and dry this winter.

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