T/C: Council must act now on homelessness

December 9, 2008 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

Yesterday’s Times Colonist editorial on the challenge our new City Council faces in finding solutions to homelessness is today’s must read.

The writer hones in on Council’s reputation for dithering in time of action:

[Mayor Dean] Fortin’s speech, for example, talked about the need “to look high and low for land, buildings and services that can support those currently living on the street.”

But the city should have already identified some of those publicly owned spaces and be pressing Coleman now for the same kind of operating funding commitment that Vancouver has received.

This is not the time to pause, or do more studies. It’s the time to rush ahead in every way — large and small — possible. The problems of homelessness, disorder, crime, addiction and illness that plague the downtown have steadily worsened over the last decade, with no effective response from the city.

Fortin’s commitment to make homelessness a priority is welcome. But action, now, is needed to signal a real change.

Council must not be focused solely on shelters and supportive housing for the disadvantaged. There are many in this city who need decent market rental housing.

Much of our existing rental housing stock is approaching the end of its useful life without expensive upgrades. New secondary suite regulations will help but we can’t expect all of Victoria’s renters to live in basement suites or high-end condos. What is needed now are a few new apartment buildings. But will this new team find the will to make it happen?

Entry filed under: architecture, City Hall, Election 2008, needle exhange, safe injection sites, social issues, Victoria's economy.

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