Opinion: A collective effort on homelessness needed

There is more work to be done on homelessness in Chilliwack, but to suggest the issue is being ignored is simply wrong.

There seems no shortage of armchair solutions to the problem of homelessness in Chilliwack.

Were it only that easy.

This week the City of Chilliwack announced another attempt to find an answer – this time marshaling local resources while tapping into the collective strength of the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Critics quickly dismissed the effort, citing what they see as a litany of failed attempts and insincere tries.

In fact, Chilliwack has made significant gains in addressing the issue. Five years ago the 23 transitional units in the Chilliwack Health and Housing Centre didn’t exist. There were no transitional and emergency shelter beds (44 in total) at Ruth and Naomi’s. The 33 units at The Village on School Street had yet to be built. And the four emergency shelter beds for at risk youth at the Cyrus Centre were also only a dream.

In all, there are currently 142 transitional beds, as well as 22 emergency shelter beds in the city. There has also been an increase in options that provide greater affordability.

Is that enough?

Clearly not.

But to suggest no effort has been made to help people get off the streets is simply wrong.

The fact that there are people still living under bridges and sleeping in city parks illustrates the complexity of the issue.

Part of that complexity is sorting out responsibility.

Municipalities are not equipped, nor were they ever intended, to fund and provide complex social services for their residents. This has traditionally been the purview of other levels of government.

And yet, after the federal and provincial governments essentially abandoned the field, this is where cities like Chilliwack find themselves.

Unlike some communities, Chilliwack has stepped up to fill that gap. Private citizens, businesses and politicians have worked behind the scenes to find long-term solutions that will work within the limited parametres of a municipal mandate.

They understand more needs to be done.

But they also know it will take more than an unwanted couch dumped under a bridge, or pithy online comments, to fix the problem.

It will take a collective community effort – and pressure on higher levels of government to do their part.

Just Posted

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

CRA scam the email edition targeted the Mounties in Chilliwack

Fraudsters claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency but the CRA never operates this way

COLUMN: Student voices give me hope for the future

Student Caleb Pennington wanted to know why something was taken off the agenda. So he asked.

Chilliwack newcomers celebrate multicultural community

Local Immigration Partnership helping new Canadians and refugees settle into new life

VIDEO: Rubik’s Rumble a hit at Chilliwack middle school

Students fill gymnasium for first annual tournament focusing on popular puzzle toy

VIDEO: Gun enthusiasts fill Chilliwack venue for antique show

Collectors, proud owners and vendors took part in the event that approaches half a century in age

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

UPDATED: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

Most Read