Pubdate: Fri, 08 Sep 2006
Source: Kootenay Western Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Kootenay Western Star
Author: Tom Fletcher
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Supervised Injection Sites)
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)


Another summer winds down as the weather begins to separate the really
homeless from the fair-weather pretenders.

However, the issue is pressing hard on B.C. communities, and not just
Vancouver and Victoria, which get most of the attention.

Here in the provincial capital, which seems to have more than its
share of hostels and street services already, the consensus is they
need more shelters.

Over in Vancouver, B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair
says the solution to poverty and homelessness is to raise the minimum
wage to $10 an hour, and get rid of that evil $6 training wage. He
doesn't mention that fewer and fewer employers are even trying to
attract help at the $8 an hour minimum, let alone the training wage.

(Sinclair also wants universal subsidized day care and major pension
increases as well as that all-purpose nostrum of the left,
"affordable" housing. All governments have to do is print more money
and poof! Society's problems are solved.)

Looking farther afield, the talk gets a bit more sensible. Chilliwack
recently hosted a homelessness forum after the city dismantled a "tent
city" at a downtown park. Taking part in the forum was B.C.'s foremost
"homeless advocate," Kerry Pakarinen, who came to prominence as a
media spokesman for the pesthole of anarchy that was the Woodward's
squat in downtown Vancouver.

He has taken his act to the Fraser Valley, setting up squats in parks
at Abbotsford and Chilliwack that predictably descended into hazardous
nests of drug paraphernalia, stolen property and filth.

Pakarinen told the forum that having no fixed address means employers
won't hire you. Chilliwack Coun. Sharon Gaetz reminded attendees that
when his organized band of squatters descended recently on City Hall
to protest being kicked out of parks, a local developer offered work
to anyone who wanted it.

How many takers did he get? You guessed it, zero.

Aside from "try working," I don't really have any simple solutions to
offer to the employable people who are homeless by their own choices.
However, it would be nice if we could at least dispense with this
ridiculous idea that people should have a "right" to squat on public

A classic example of this abuse of public parks was one of the many
"homeless" who was ousted from his camp this summer in one of B.C.'s
choicest bits of oceanfront property, Beacon Hill Park.

"It's a nice spot," said Billy Bob McPherson, as he identified himself
to a local newspaper. "I've been eating a lot of gooseneck barnacles
and living off the sea. Now, I'm just going to move 100 yards down the

Yes, Billy Bob, and downtown Vancouver has nice spots, too. That's why
it's some of the most expensive real estate in the country, where even
most working people can't afford to live.

Squat organizer Pakarinen got at least one thing right. If you can't
make it in the big city, maybe it's time to look for someplace that
doesn't have the country's highest cost of living.

Also here in Victoria, police are busy early each morning waking up
people sleeping in downtown doorways. A law firm has launched a court
challenge to the city's bylaw that prohibits building shelters on
public property and sleeping in public parks. If that succeeds, get
used to dirty clothes hanging off your local cenotaph.

Local MLA Rob Fleming scolded the provincial government last week for
placing its social housing priority on seniors and people with mental
problems. Better there than on able-bodied males who emerge each
summer to occupy the choicest of city parks, complete with their own
media wranglers.

The Drug Connection

Hospitals report that as many as half of their emergency admissions
are intoxicated.

Panhandlers puff cigarettes as they collect cash from those who don't
notice or care where their money is going. Police report again and
again that nearly all their low-level property crime is drug-related,
with a few hardcore actors doing most of it.

The big-city debate continues in Orwellian language, defending "safe"
injection sites that can't possibly be safe and needle "exchange"
programs where dirty needles are discarded on sidewalks and parks.

Perhaps the ultimate solution is to provide hardcore addicts with not
only free shelter and medical care but free drugs, too. But I don't
think the public is ready to surrender that completely.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake