We can only hope, for the sake of the homeless, that the worst of winter has passed. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Start planning now for Duncan warming centre next winter

We can only hope that we've already been through the worst of winter

It’s something that comes up every year, and planning for it should begin now.

Plans for a daytime warming centre for the homeless will not go ahead in Duncan. The idea lacked a home, and funding. Sadly, and most importantly, it lacked support from the community. We can only hope that we’ve already been through the worst of winter, but that’s far from guaranteed, as February can often be the coldest, and snowiest month of the year in Cowichan.

Many people seem to see the homeless as primarily a nuisance that we’d be well rid of (how that’s supposed to happen since we lack both resources and magic, is often unclear).

It’s important to be reminded that they, like us, are human beings. They don’t enjoy being out in the cold and damp of winter, something that many, snug in their living rooms with a steaming beverage, don’t seem to fully appreciate. Because long spells outside during the cold of winter can have dire consequences on people’s health, up to and including death in the worst of cases.

Ideally, we should be able to provide homes to all. Since we aren’t doing that, providing a warm place to go during the day doesn’t seem so much to ask.

We know this will again be a problem next year. And likely for several years at least after that (our hope is that some kind of housing first strategy can begin to put a dent in the homeless numbers by then). So isn’t now the time to do the planning?

We’ve got to look ahead, find a location, and start the arduous task of finding funding and someone to run it. If we don’t we’re only going to find ourselves right back here next year, with the same likely outcome: people left out in the cold.

This isn’t a solution to our homelessness problem, but it is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to dealing with the here and now.

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