Letter: Can’t sweep homeless under the grass

Letter: Can’t sweep homeless under the grass

When homeless people sleep in the park they’re not on the doorsteps of small businesses.

Councillors who say “you’re not in charge of the city, we are.” Councillors endorsing other candidates to form a voting bloc.

I know apathy sees wrong and does nothing, or worse. Empathy sees wrong and changes it for the better. City planning must include poverty, homelessness, the sex trade and addiction, even a rainbow crosswalk.

These ‘undesirables’ have been here all along, remnants of another era. When our community trained and treated troops at war, the sex trade was here to serve those men.

Now we’re a truck stop five and a half hours from Vancouver, six hours to Calgary plus a local market, and they all meet here.

Tax dollars spent to move the homeless out of Polson Park from their place on the wrong side of the tracks. No one even saw them there until we built a park through their backyard. Ongoing publicity around homeless sex workers on 25th Avenue scares off traditional tourists but brings the sex trade a lot of new clients.

If we take a homeless person’s backpack or cart, that person will need his clothes, socks, shoes, coat, cart, or backpack replaced and that means more crime. If that person is addicted, their usage goes up from stress, triggered over and over. It’s a cycle of increasing crime and increasing addiction killing them off faster and faster, while we spend more dollars and hours on First Responders police and bylaws, thousands on every OD.

The big businesses that own the shopping carts get our dollars when we shop there as a town. Those are not our monkeys, that’s not our circus. Did the stores even ask for help? Don’t they have people who get paid to round up those carts? What about those jobs?

Reopen the park or put up a hedge on 25th Avenue. When homeless people sleep in the park they’re not on the doorsteps of small businesses in the morning.

Poor planning on new housing in a poor neighbourhood. It’s unattainable for the current neighbours at full market value. But the new neighbours don’t welcome the downtrodden and addicted. They were here all along but no one saw them until we built this new downtown around them, just like we did in the park.

I know you can’t pick up a neighbourhood, move it and expect it to stay where you want it. You have to recognize it and let it be part of our plan instead of wasting our tax dollars pushing people around. This neighbourhood is grandfathered in.

Seventeen years homeowner, behind the hedge, close to the edge of the downtown core.

Gary Zaharia