Walking through Polson Park should be a leisurely, family activity.
However, due to recent rulings that have allowed temporary shelter in the park and other designated public spaces from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. when shelter beds are not available, the plethora of camps in the boardwalk, reports of illicit drug use and the recent mid-day shooting that took place as a Vernon high school’s graduation photos were coming to an end, residents are left feeling unsafe.
To combat this issue, a petition entitled Make Polson Park Safe Again was started in hopes of either fencing off the boardwalk or placing the homeless in an area that “isn’t making the signature park a safety issue for the children.”
And while something certainly needs to be done, fencing off the boardwalk or having a designated camp is nothing more than a Band-Aid solution.
While it may temporarily alleviate the issues faced by residents visiting Polson Park, the problem wouldn’t be solved, it would simply be relocated. Because hiding our problems under a blanket or behind a barrier doesn’t strike the issue at its roots: poverty and substance abuse.
Without provincial and federal governments placing more of an emphasis on providing shelter beds for the city’s homeless, nothing will change. Without provincial and federal governments placing more of an emphasis on providing assistance for people facing substance abuse problems, nothing will change.
While residents who use the park have every right to be frustrated, the issue isn’t with the homeless, but rather the lack of government assistance.