I read with great sadness the two letters in the Nov. 15 paper blaming homeless people for their predicament and I read with relief the one letter by M.J. Buffle suggesting a constructive and compassionate although stopgap solution.
Vernon is going to benefit from the housing initiative announced by the provincial government which should help with the situation but it will not help soften the attitudes of people who have learned to blame victims for their problems.
Huge social issues underlie the growing problem of homelessness: systemic manipulation of the housing market;, shortage of decent wage paying job opportunities; failures in the education system; historical neglect of those with mental health problems; predatory debt traps for those . who are struggling to stay afloat ; an economic system which rewards the rich who avoid taxes and blames the poor for “not paying their share”..
There is plenty of information about these issues if one chooses to educate oneself.
Above all there is a profound lack of understanding of the causes of drug addiction. I suggest reading anything you can find by Dr. Gabor Mate, who has spent his career working with the residents of the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. He will tell you that addiction is not a “choice”.
After weeks of endless guilt being dispensed on the homeless situation from our political elite such as Juliette Cunningham (Nov. 1) or writers such as Greg Hesford (Nov. 5), Maria Ungaro (Nov. 15) finally hones in on what is bothering most Vernonites, the endless “excuses and do nothing” rhetoric that focuses on transferring this issue to not only our “better selves” and but ultimately the ever thinning pocket books of property taxpayers.
I’ve yet to meet a mean-spirited person in Vernon, but as Trevor Jones (Nov. 15) so poignantly points out, enough is enough. I’m gobsmacked every time I drive down 25th Avenue and look at what these people are doing to our walkways and how bylaw “enforce” the restrictions for camping on public property. The garbage and unsightly demeanor is simply not created by individuals who have any sense of civic pride. Moreover, if you or I breech a public ordinance, the full arm of the law will dole out a litany of violation charges in next to no time! It begs the question, has the evolution of civic government really served the residents of Vernon, and in particular, the property tax base or is it simply a forum for ever expanding bylaws and various forms of social engineering?
Let’s face it, our council is inundated with “do-nothing” individuals who cling to their sense of community responsibility by basking in the ambiance of either doling out money for “special dispensations” such as kilts for the pipe band or feeding the endless O’Keefe Ranch cash requirements that our last council managed to get under control. Their dedication to studying every issue to the nth degree and couching it in politically correct weasel words is almost legendary! Vernon residents don’t have to look any farther than the ever narrowing road system or their quarterly utility bills to see how ineffectively the our civic government is serving our municipal needs. And if the going really gets tough, they hold a referendum where everyone votes, not just the taxpayers who ultimately have to foot the bill! When does it all end?
For me, it’s Maria Ungaro for “Woman of the Year” and to hell with the politicians who ultimately expect us to carry the load year after year. I’m sick of the Vernon political establishment and their mismanagement of not only our tax dollars but also the critical issues that affect our daily lives. Is it too much to expect better from our elected officials?