There has been some debate in the last few days about the City of Vernon dismantling homeless camps, and particularly two high-profile ones by Polson Park and the Vernon Square mall.
Obviously the images of heavy equipment pushing tarps and other items into piles are troubling.
However, it’s too easy to criticize the city for its actions.
After all, municipalities have no mandate for social issues at the same time that camps create a range of concerns, and particularly the health and wellbeing of those living there.
The city’s decision to close the homeless camps was partly driven by the fact that summer staff who provided assistance in the camps are no longer available.
And ultimately that is the bottom line — a lack of resources.
Both the provincial and federal governments talk a lot about assisting communities and those in need, but there is very little tangible evidence of that occurring here in the North Okanagan.
Yes, Victoria has provided funding for the John Howard Society to put out extra mats during cold weather, but a few mats on the floor aren’t a long-term solution.
Funding needs to be directed into affordable housing to get people off of the street, and while some obviously want to remain off the grid, most are looking for a roof over their head. And with that housing needs to come a range of support services — health, counselling and life skills and jobs training.
It’s time for senior government to get serious about homelessness and reach out to communities like Vernon.
If not, tent cities will continue to dot the landscape.