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Homeless man speaks out on encampment issues in Courtenay

“People don’t have anything to put their faith into. It’s all talk talk talk, and nothing’s done.”
Outreach, RCMP and bylaw are supervising the parking lot beside the Connect Centre as people sheltering in parking spaces dismantle their tents to leave. (Connor McDowell/Comox Valley Record)

On the morning of Friday, Nov. 3, the parking lot beside the Connect Centre was host to bylaw, RCMP, Courtenay Fire, homeless outreach, garbage trucks and ambulance services.

City officials were taking action, responding to daily complaints from downtown business workers who could not use their parking spots because homeless were tenting in them. Supervised by bylaw and law enforcement officers, a homeless peer team co-operated smoothly with authorities and pushed everybody to clear the area, pack up their tents, and move to Simms Millennium Park.

It was just a “one off” event, however, something homeless and security agreed in open air that was likely to happen again soon.

A person living in a tent on scene told the Record things are not what they should be.

“What’s going on here, is there’s no solution to the problem,” said Jack Lind, who arrived in town this summer. “It’s a form of abuse.”

Lind told the Record he came from Toronto, after learning his local friend had passed away. He stayed in town after identifying with the community of homeless in town, and finding purpose in supporting them.

Perhaps closest to Lind’s heart, however, was a woman. He said it was the partner of his friend, who had been left behind when his friend passed away.

“She’s just broken, man. Shattered.”

As Lind watches his peers break down their tents, toss garbage into the back of a City of Courtenay truck, and speak with bylaw and law enforcement, he speaks about the plight of homeless people who live the ongoing issue in Courtenay.

“People who were supposed to love them turned on them. Then they find some substance that makes them feel good, and that turns on them. And you have the rest of society, the people, who don’t have any comprehension.”

Mario Palma, who started a month ago as co-ordinator of Connect Centre, also watched as homeless took down their tents and cleared the city parking lot. He said the homeless need a designated area.

“This is why we’re seeing this problem with these tents coming up. They feel safer in groups, especially when they’re using. So they stick together.

“There’s talks and talks and talks, but there’s no solutions. This person… that person might do this, might do that. The solution is not just telling them to get the heck out of here, it’s telling them where they can actually go.”

As part of the group that left the Connect Centre parking lot on the morning of Nov. 3, Lind makes a comment about the lack of action from leaders in town.

“People do not have anything to put their faith into. It’s all talk talk talk, and nothing’s done.”

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