Piece of the puzzle

An innovative supportive housing project drew impassioned debate from those both for and against it this week. But in the end, Chilliwack city council did the right thing and approved the rezoning.

The outcome was never in doubt. This council, and the council before it, has struggled to find a way to help people who have a genuine desire to leave a troubled lifestyle behind.

It’s a challenge many communities face: providing a bridge between a life on the street and reintegration into society.

The solution has to go beyond providing cheap rent. It has to offer people practical tools to basically re-invent themselves. And it has to do it in way that provides both professional and social support.

The health contact centre approved Tuesday does that. It’s a classic “hand up, instead of a hand out.” Through a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach, the centre will provide the kind of stability necessary for someone to gain back control of his or her life.

The goal is to provide an environment where lasting change can take root.

Not all residents will achieve that success. But we know that doing nothing does not work. We know that it actually costs society more to ignore the issue of addiction and homelessness than it does to deal with it.

That’s one reason Chilliwack RCMP endorse the plan.

Said RCMP Insp. Grant Wilson: “There is a need in Chilliwack for a local facility like this, and your police department needs it as well.”

Is the location ideal? Probably not. Something with a closer proximity to Chilliwack General would have likely been preferred.

But the fact remains this kind of project has been sought after for years. It will not provide all the answers to the social issues dealt with daily on Chilliwack streets. But it will provide an important part of the solution.

“This is a chance for Chilliwack to show the rest of the Lower Mainland how to do it right,” said addictions manager Lee Anne Hanson with the Pacific Community Resources Society.

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