Duncan council myopic on growing homeless crisis

Maybe city council will find a place to simply warm our many homeless folks by summer?

Duncan council myopic on growing homeless crisis

Dear Duncan mayor and council:

Maybe city council will find a place to simply warm, let alone house, our many homeless folks by summer? Homelessness issues during the winter months are definitely not new to Duncan, nor to North Cowichan, council.

This preventable crisis stretches back some 20 years, long before our bravely functional Warmland House was built. It was full the day it opened, but with just 25 or 30 overnight beds, demand has flooded supply for years, prompting persistent homelessness while politicians continue talking.

Sadly, Duncan councillors are unable to find a warming place on the city’s own property, being the McAdam Park Fieldhouse under discussion. That’s disgraceful, and dangerous. The time to think about such cold-weather facilities, including talks with apprehensive neighbours — some of whom are simply NIMBYs — is during the summer or early fall, not when a warming shelter is actually needed. Adding showers to the McAdam building could basically be done overnight while street people remain camped under tarps and surviving elsewhere.

Duncan council’s myopia to its swelling homeless crisis is simply shameful, as if pulling down protest tents last summer in Hoey Park would make this prickly problem disappear. Proposed use of the former, derelict Charles Hoey school as a women’s shelter is a no-brainer. Open it soonest. Meanwhile, council must proactively and creatively lead. Find somewhere now to warm our less fortunate instead of waiting for answers from our local help agencies — who rightly say our homelessness issue is indeed one of life and death.

Peter W. Rusland


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