Comox Valley homeless need more than ‘good deed’

Dear editor,
What will this new shelter do?
How will it truly help our most needy — or Is this just another desperate effort to make us feel good? Do we really want Courtenay to end up like downtown Nanaimo or Victoria?

Dear editor, What will this new shelter do? How will it truly help our most needy — or Is this just another desperate effort to make us feel good? Do we really want Courtenay to end up like downtown Nanaimo or Victoria?Having actually worked in soup kitchens and with street/homeless people, I have a more jaded view about just throwing up a building and saying, “Now we’ve done our good deed.”The majority of these people are suffering under mental illness or substance abuse (often both). Let’s not repeat the same mistakes these other communities have made and further erode our downtown core.Let’s give some real thoughtful consideration as to what we are building, who will be living there and for how long. Who will staff this new facility and how are they prepared to deal with the addictions, mental illness, violence or anti-social behaviour?We already have a Salvation Army-run homeless shelter in Courtenay. It is rarely filled and mostly holds longer-term residents coming out of rehab or prison. The Four Square Church also has a large trailer for emergency shelter when the weather gets really rough. Normally the homeless don’t want to live under any roof with any possible restrictions. That’s why abandoned houses are more to their liking.The systems in place are not enough, we all agree, but let’s not rush into another government boondoggle and create an inefficient tax money suck that does not work.Those on city council are right in saying that there has not been enough public consultation or considerate thought put into planning this. Let’s do it right.Repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results is a sign of insanity. No one is against sheltering our cities needy; we just want to do what is best for the whole community, including the homeless.John Van Egmond,Courtenay

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