Opinion. By Mike Archer. In the cynical game some of our older politicians have been playing – using the lives of the homeless men and women they have ruined in order to re-write history and get re-elected – one voice stood out in the rush to spend money repairing tarnished reputations.
“Was there any consideration at all in your deliberations about if at all quote un-quote outdoor living was part of that spectrum. There are people who choose to live outdoors. Is that at all considered? Because if it is part of the spectrum I would think it has something to say about perhaps a dignity village.” – Dave Loewen
Of course there wasn’t Dave. Instead of doing something which would positively affect the day-to-day lives of the homeless men and women we have so treacherously hunted and abused for so long, John Smith, Patricia Ross and the collective care community of Abbotsford decided we should hire a homeless coordinator for $100,000 a year.
The fact that this human rights travesty has been largely as a result of Councillor John Smith’s instruction to the Abbotsford Police Department to deal with the homeless downtown, thereby exceeding both his and the APD’s jurisdiction and criminalizing homelessness as in no other community, is apparently beside the point.
Maybe we can afford to pay this new $100,000/year bureaucrat (we don’t have enough of those) out the the money we’re saving on John Smith’s multi-generational financial disaster – Plan A – now that we are not funneling millions to the Calgary Flames each year.
John – not every issue can be resolved by throwing your friends’ and neighbours’ money at it.
The Task Force’s other recommendations which include health outreach, prevention programs, and a rental bank are merely throw-away items designed to flesh out a report which didn’t even include actual homeless people in its deliberations.
As Councillor Loewen points out, the report does absolutely nothing to address the fact that this City has erected a barrier of bylaws making it illegal to live outside and has used its police force to enforce its immoral and probably illegal Anti Homeless Bylaws.
Nor, when it suggests an ‘ideal’ target of 50 to 60 low barrier housing units, does it do anything to address the statements, made at the Open House for the Valley Road proposal, that the proponents have every intention of allowing the APD to have 24/7 access to the site – something no other dwelling, condo, apartment building or shelter in BC offers.
Beyond the embarrassment and the shame of the situation Smith and his cohorts have created, the fact that the same people responsible for creating the mess were quickly brought together to come up with a PR solution before the November municipal election, is proof positive that new blood is required at City Hall. New blood which, instead of spending money on bureaucrats and sham facades, can get down to business and fix what Smith, the APD and the care community have destroyed – the public trust.
See the City of Abbotsford’s website for the report and presentations from the Task Force:
- 2014 Homelessness Count Presentation
- DRAFT Task Force Recommendations Report September 8
- Key Strategic Directions