One of Trail’s homeless hunkers down in a back alley with only a tarp for shelter. Photo: Trail Times

Trail residents and businesses asked to join forces to help the vulnerable

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The City of Trail is asking local businesses and the community-at-large to join forces in sending a unified message to the powers-that-be that urgent intervention is needed to help the city’s most vulnerable.

In response to a public health and safety downturn, and the immediate need for more resources, the city is asking locals to write a letter, or read over and sign a form letter, and send it to elected representatives, government heads, the RCMP and Interior Health.

The sample form letter and contact list of where to send it — names, phone numbers and email addresses — is available on the city’s website:

“The B.C. government has allocated half a billion dollars for mental health over the next five years and we are hoping some of this money can help our most vulnerable people,” said Trail Mayor Lisa Pasin. “Our safety and social services are doing everything possible but they are overwhelmed by the need.”

Pasin clarifies this letter-writing is only part of a multi-pronged program Trail council has launched to provide urgent assistance to a growing number of vulnerable people in the downtown core, including those with mental health and substance use issues.

The municipality and its Community Safety Task Force, a multidisciplinary group set up to provide advice to city council on strategies related to community safety, aims to work with federal and provincial ministries to take immediate action.

In effort to tackle chronic staffing shortages at the local detachment, the city is petitioning the RCMP National Headquarters.

As well, health officials are being asked to consider an overdose prevention site in Trail as well as enhancement of the full suite of supportive services offered such as additional outreach support, addiction services, and counselling resources.

Housing minister David Eby is being petitioned to move forward with the provision of supportive housing as the city’s homeless shelter is unable to provide the level of service that is required for local vulnerable residents.

The pandemic and opioid crises, coupled with a shortage of affordable rental accommodation, has resulted in more vulnerable people living on the streets and requiring immediate help.

There is an identified need for supportive housing, Pasin said, adding that council has met with BC Housing and hopes this gap can be effectively addressed.

Local businesses, already negatively impacted by the pandemic and public health restrictions, are reporting a spike in property crimes including vandalism, shoplifting and graffiti.

In response, the city has increased its regular downtown street and alley flushing.

The city is also working with other organizations to assess the following initiatives: increased lighting and security cameras downtown; graffiti removal; and adding more portable toilets in the downtown core with the possibility of a long-term plan to construct permanent downtown public washrooms.

Pasin has sent letters to federal and provincial government ministries asking for immediate assistance.

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