By Cee Archer. This morning I looked over pictures that were submitted to us, covering the removal of the homeless camp on Gladys Road.
Now that the camp is gone, some might think the problem is solved. After all, an unsafe eyesore that frightened grannies everywhere is no more. And they actually managed to move the campers without the use of feces. A congratulatory back slap or two seems to be in order.
It’s not clear, however, where the city expects these people to go. If we’re going to claim to be motivated by a concern for their health and safety, shouldn’t we be doing more than just kicking them from their home?
Look at the pictures for a moment. Yes, there’s a lot of garbage strewn about, and yes, it clearly wouldn’t be very safe or healthy to live there, but what you’re looking at is someone’s home. Somebody spent the night there, used it as a safe place to have a sort of a roof over their head. If we kicked them out over a concern for their safety, don’t we have a responsibility to provide them with something better?
Looking at the camp, I’m reminded of this city’s beginnings. Many of the city’s old families, the MacGregors for instance, would have got their start here in a similar way, by setting themselves up on a chunk of land and making due with what they had. Can you imagine if they’d been evicted by the Sto:lo for squatting?
If we haven’t gotten around to approving adequate housing for them, where exactly do we expect these people to go?
The kindest thing is to allow them to settle somewhere till there are actual “people approved” homes for each of them.
Surely the city can provide a piece of land that can be used for the homeless to settle, if nothing else, at least for the winter.
I think if we provide them with outdoor facilities (we can do it on campgrounds, surely we can do it for a homeless camp) then they can be safe until the permanent solutions are up.
In the meantime the homeless have now lost yet another home. It may not have been perfect but it was HOME.
All photos by Win Wachsmann