Corrigan's comments on the homeless troubling
Re: Mayor Corrigan has his say on the homeless shelter issue (Column, NewsLeader, Feb. 1)
Mayor Derek Corrigan's disdainful comments about his city's homeless constituents reveals both his failure to adapt to the changing realities of local governance around social issues and a troubling prejudice he has for Burnaby's most vulnerable.
His stubborn refusal to build a permanent shelter in Burnaby limits the city's ability to address a growing social problem and creates further barriers for those struggling to find housing. It also further stigmatizes homeless people and removes a possibility to build bridges between people of different classes and create healthier communities.
It's very easy to call shelters a band-aid solution, just as it's very easy to do nothing at all. But the reality beckons Mayor Corrigan to take charge and start working on creating solutions. His refusal to do shows an inability to adapt and lead on this issue.
However, even more troubling, and incredibly revealing, are his comments about the nature of homeless people. To claim that homeless people and those struggling with addiction are beyond hope and are so ruthless that they would steal the gold fillings out of dying person's mouth is hateful. It appears his years as a probation officer, prison guard and criminal lawyer have tainted his views on marginalized people and made him extremely cynical.
Perhaps it was the position of power he had that has made it difficult for him to empathize. Whatever his motives, the city's homeless are suffering because of them.
Corrigan should apologize for his comments and the residents of Burnaby should demand action to address the city's homelessness crisis.
Executive Director, Megaphone
(Megaphone is a magazine sold on the streets of Vancouver by homeless and low-income vendors. www.megaphonemagazine.com)