Letter: Cart ban is draconian measure

Letter: Cart ban is draconian measure

RE: the decision of the Vernon Council to ban the homeless having carts on any public places.

RE: the decision of the Vernon Council (four to one) to ban the homeless having carts on any public places.

My grandparents, Frank Noel Hales and Alice Hutton Hales owned a farm between Armstrong and Vernon from 1907 till 1956. During the dirty ’30s when desperate men rode the rails to find help my grandparents provided meals to those who followed the markings left by the men who had gone before them to find the homes where food would be given. This system was analogous to the underground railway. At that time the criminal law outlawed homelessness which was then called vagrancy and was liable on conviction to a term in prison. Prison was certainly a draconian solution to homelessness and somewhat analogous to being forced into a shelter, but at least no one outlawed how the homeless carted their belongings from place to place.

I am astonished to hear that the City of Vernon has passed this draconian measure against the homeless. Actually, I am astonished that there exists a place that would pass such a measure and more so by the fact that it passed four to one. I note that there is no mention of any report from those most affected by this measure or from anyone or group that could legitimately speak for them.

I listened to the CBC radio program in which a Mr. Quiring, evidently one of the councilors who voted in favour of this motion, tried to explain why he pushed for such a draconian measure.

It seems to me that someone, such as Mr. Quiring, who says he has a degree in architecture and has been living in Vernon for the last 25 years cannot claim, as he seemed to do, that within his experience is the understanding and inside knowledge of how someone living with the few possessions that fit into a cart will feel, react to having the cart removed.

One thing Mr. Quiring had right was when he mentioned, as he unsuccessfully tried to muster an argument in defence of the indefensible, “I don’t know how to get people to the institutional help available for them.” Nor, apparently is he aware of the scarcity of shelter spaces for the many without homes in Vernon.

It is, really incomprehensible to me that the homeless, whose only wheels are those under the shopping cart they are pushing, should be punished whereas those who can afford “real wheels” are free to cart around anything they wish.

I ask you, Mr. Quiring, and the rest of those on council who voted for this unfortunate and likely unlawful provision to listen to Mr. Quiring’s remarks and note how often he relies on his own beliefs and observations and the experiences of his family to support a decision that will mean that those living on the street have no convenient way to carry what little they have and thus, inevitably, will be reduced to having nothing at all.

Also note his confusion in complaining first, that one of the problems of the homeless is they do not know how to decide what is valuable, followed by a complaint that, their carts contain all they need to live including tents.

I assume that this last complaint is because so long as they have everything they need they will not be forced into shelters of which in any case there are insufficient to house all of them.

Diana Davidson

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