Re: opinion column by Bruce Murray in the Nov. 24 edition of The NEWS (‘Facing the Homeless Invasion’).
As I began to read this column I was impressed with the caring attitude with which Murray approached the homeless person to meet him. Most of us look away, walk away and forget about them, or pretend we never even noticed them in the first place. In point of fact, most of these homeless people, through disabilities which are physical, emotional, or intellectual, end up in a homeless situation after spiralling downward following some type of personal challenge which could not be overcome. However, as I continued to read on, I realized Murray was only approaching this young person to find out essentially what his intentions were. “I decided to watch his activities and document any screw up…”
As he goes on he mentions that he spotted the Manna vehicle in the area which was being used by Robin Campbell on a wildlife call at the time (because the NIWRA vehicle was in use elsewhere). Despite Murray’s denigrating comments about Campbell’s policy to try and reach out to these unfortunate homeless individuals, Campbell did say that if the tent was one he had handed out to a homeless person, he would make arrangements to come back and clean up the area personally. The tent did not belong to Manna, but Campbell did offer to come back on his own time to talk to the person and see if he could help. In the meantime, the bylaw officer visited and the young camper pulled up stakes and left the area quickly after that. Murray’s article ended with accusing the homeless person of stealing a couple of boards from a neighbour’s yard.
I know Campbell personally and I am appalled by the impression Murray is trying to leave us with. Recently on talking with Campbell he told me that he has had calls from people referring to difficulties with “your homeless people,” insinuating that Campbell is somehow responsible for these people and their situations.
They are not ‘his homeless people,’ but society’s homeless people and unless we, as a society, make some provision for them, and soon, they will only continue to increase in number and in desperation and in the long run will eventually cost a great deal more than a few used boards and a bit of clean up.