City Council’s Need For A Task Force

By James Breckenridge. With the stories in the Abbotsford News highlighting that Abbotsford’s City Councillors squandered $23.1 million dollars [5.24 + 8.32 + 5.5 + 4.04* = 23.1 *ballpark estimate for year 5 subsidies] on their Great White Elephant ego project [AKA Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre] and buying the presence of the Heat as a tenant for their empty ego trip …

I have to admit there is solid evidence that Mr. Eric Myrholm was right when he asserted that Abbotsford council and staff have the mental capacity of a cumquat and thus need a Task Force and more study of homelessness.

Furthermore I acknowledge that the evidence provided by council’s actions over the past decade would support, perhaps better support, the lack of mental capacity at City Hall hypothesis than it does my hypothesis that stalling is the reason council has taken no effective or intelligent actions to address homelessness in the past decade.

A decade’s worth of forums, a decade’s worth of best practices and the outcomes from those practices in other cities, a decade’s worth of research, six years of having an advisory committee for council, a social planner as part of the planning process, the decision that the city no longer requires a social planner, overwhelming evidence in support of the ACS Housing First proposal, council’s self described irrational voting down of the ACS proposal and provincial funding, council’s need to create a Task Force …

Provide piece after piece of evidence to support the ‘having the intelligence of a cumquat’ hypothesis as to why Abbotsford city council and city hall felt they did not have enough information to make intelligent decisions vis-à-vis homelessness.

Lack of metal capacity could explain the fact that, over the Easter long weekend, without consulting their Task Force and ignoring what advice they did get, the city – having been presented with a handy excuse – descended upon a homeless camp that had been a thorn in their side and removed it.

As I say he could be right.

The only point I can definitely say that Mr. Myrholm is wrong about is coming up with a great solution.

The more you know about mental health, substance use, homelessness, the economics of poverty, the economy, political gamesmanship, business, finance, willful denial, the insistence on seeing [being told] what they want to hear and ignoring reality …

The more knowledge and experience you have with issues involving people and the complexities introduced by the psychological. sociological, biological and cultural components of individuals …

The more you understand that issues and situations involving people have no nice neat solutions; that with people what you would expect to be the outcome of an action is often totally wrong and the outcome you get is something unexpected and counter-intuitive.

Be aware that when I am speaking of the involvement of people in an issue such as homelessness, the term ‘people’ doesn’t include just the homeless but all of us.

Because one of the hard facts I do know is that the mistaken information and beliefs held by the public are major obstacles to addressing not just the issue of homelessness but many of the issues and challenges facing us today.

I can tell you the most important action we need to take is to get out of the recycling of people business and get in to the recovery business. That is why the Housing First – a recovery based approach – project proposed by ACS was important.

I can tell you what course and direction individuals need to follow and move in to find wellness; I can tell you that what they need to do, while similar, is different for each unique individual; I can tell you what resources, supports and services we need to put in place to help people achieve wellness and recovery; I can tell you what best practices are available to provide the resources, supports and services needed and what outcomes those practices achieve; I can share my experiences, the knowledge and understanding I have gained and where/how it was gained.

I cannot force people to change, I cannot force them to want to change, to abandon willful denial, much less act to address the issues associated with homelessness.

I can write; advocate; share; educate; make knowledge, resources outcomes and best practices available; encourage; support …

And I can remind people that when faced with a complex problem involving people and without nice neat [perhaps any] solutions the most important action is to choose to start.

“I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while actually producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” – Petronius

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