I read with some bemusement and annoyance the comments from local homelessness advocates and professionals who believe that preventing crime and vandalism downtown is “mean spirited” and a “very dangerous direction” for our community.
They claim that the homeless people living downtown are not the ones causing damage to businesses, not the ones starting unattended beach fires, and not the ones beating other homeless people to death over drug debts right outside the downtown safety office.
Who, then, is causing all this chaos? There certainly is a small group of harmless homeless people living in Campbell River, the same group who has been on the streets for the past two decades despite all attempts made to help them. They are not the problem, but the influx of violent homeless addicts in recent years preying on them has escalated downtown issues, creating the problems we now see. Clearly, the homelessness advocacy groups have failed to prevent crime and violence through their efforts of kindness and altruism, so the city has been forced to consider more dramatic measures.
Despite the claims of homeless advocates, it’s not homeowners or taxpayers coming into the downtown to set unattended fires along the beach. My son and I stomped one out back in February at the sandy beach north of the ferry terminal, someone had piled several large logs on top of each other, heaped garbage on top of that, and left it burning unattended. It’s not homeowners or taxpayers doing this, nor are they coming into the downtown at night to do hard drugs and set other homeless people on fire under the bridges.
Our homeless advocates have failed in their mandate, and before accusing the rest of the city of being mean-spirited, perhaps they need to address their own failures and shortcomings in resolving this difficult issue before looking to blame others. This is a community issue, and it will require everyone to get past their own biases and agendas to solve it.