You have to give Mayor Andy Adams credit for not running away from the homelessness issue.
He could very easily have given his best Trudeau (senior) shrug and said, “It’s not my responsibility. Talk to the province.” Because that is fact.
However, Adams and his council have kept a sympathetic ear open to the segment of our society that is struggling with homelessness and done what is within their power to do. But the city doesn’t actually have a lot of responsibility in this area. Social services are the responsibility of the provincial government. If the city were to allocate tax dollars to this issue, it would be duplicating money already scooped up from taxpayers for that purpose.
The city can take land the city owns and give it to a community effort for services to the homeless like it has done with other projects – Rose Harbour, Habitat for Humanity builds, and the new facility for the Campbell River Hospice Society. The city has also offered to waive development permit fees and pay for utility hook-ups.
The province – and to some extent – the federal government, has money for these services. Those senior levels of government have not allocated enough of those funds to effectively combat homelessness in Campbell River (or anywhere) some would argue. On the surface, it seems like a straightforward issue but, of course, in reality, it’s very complex.
Then there’s the public’s responsibility. Maybe individual citizens should take up the cause, like they have for other issues (salmon enhancement, the SPCA) and lead from the grassroots?
Of course, the public pays taxes to deal with these issues but if more is needed, are they willing to pay more? And that’s what it comes down to. All levels of government have their funds to work with and they have to make decisions on how to spend that money.
Although the focus needs to be on the level of government that has that pot of money to spend – the province – there may still be room for more from the city. Bold creativity could go a long way to having an impact. Just because responsibilities are delineated by legislation doesn’t mean we can’t seek creative alternatives.
Think outside the box, as they say.