Q&A – The Downtown Crisis
Q – What should the city do to deal with people living on the streets in downtown Campbell River and the associated inappropriate behaviour?
A – Most people are reacting out of fear, concern and frustration, they feel the situation is out of control. They want to know the City is dealing with this crisis.
These are our people, our residents, living on our streets. We need to deal with understanding and compassion. There is no easy quick fix. There are those that are poor, those with mental health issues, those with alcohol and addiction issues, and a criminal element that preys on the others and attacks business and residents. Each group requires a different approach. There are some short term actions that can be used to ease the situation and there are longer term solutions that we need to start on now.
In the short term, the RCMP need to deal with the criminal element and violent behaviour. This is urgent because failure to deal with it leads to vigilante actions and the crisis escalates.
The less serious but inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour needs to stop. There must be a consequence for their actions. Spending the night in jail is compassionate. They are safe, and warm even if for a short time.
Mayor and Council need to calm the situation, take control, communicate better, and bring all the community together, to work with senior governments, First Nations and Organizations, the unhoused people, business and the general public on a more permanent solution.
This is a very complex issue and almost every community in the province is impacted by this situation and are searching for solutions.
There are federal and provincial laws that need to be changed. This takes time.
We lack the number of shelters and treatment facilities needed to provide safety and security for everyone. We have approached the Province and are working on having proper facilities provided.
We are not alone in this issue. We can learn from others such as Duncan and Port Alberni with their tiny homes project. We were successful in having a resolution passed at the local government convention asking the provincial and federal governments to pay for security and cleanup.
There is much to be done and we all have to work together to enable long term solutions.
We need to start now, focus on solutions and start making progress even if it means starting with little steps. Shelter First!
– Charlie Cornfield