Recently, I again drove by “Tent City” on Gladys Avenue. What a sorry sight.
This camp, I suggest, consists of three categories of people.
Each category deserves more helpful treatment than presently offered.
As a prosperous city of almost 140,000, widely acclaimed as the most generous locality in Canada, a city boasting more than 115 places of worship including at least 108 churches, and a city whose council and mayor are determined to resolve the problem, we can and must do better.
Here are some suggestions:
– Any tent-dwellers with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities need to be treated in supervised care facilities or, if seriously challenged, in an appropriate institution. That should be made a condition of continuing financial support.
– Those with serious addiction problems should be placed in a detox and recovery centre. That becomes a condition of continuing financial support.
– Those who are healthy must be given job options as these become available. If they refuse to work, they should lose their financial support.
Let me add here that various jobs do exist. For example, a friend of mine who owns a nursery in Abbotsford and pays a decent wage, cannot find workers for his altogether pleasant nursery operation. He has already brought in 12 migrant workers from Mexico. He has to pay their airfare and provide housing.
He advertised in several local papers, including this one, but found no workers.
Any able-bodied men and women in Tent City should have to choose between accepting jobs or losing government income.
If needed, these new employees should be offered a first month’s free housing, appropriate clothing and, if needed, a bicycle. Perhaps the churches could cover these costs.
For all three categories, the option of remaining in a Tent City disappears, as do the tents.
Moving these people to a camp off the Mission highway does not deal with the problem; it only relocates it.
It’s time for an effective blend of compassion, tough love, and law and order.
The present unhealthy, disgraceful, and disgusting situation must end! We can and must do better!
John H. Redekop, Abbotsford