I think we should all say hats off — no, hats off isn’t enough; we should offer our sincerest appreciation and respect to our Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association for their caring, responsible and statesmanly response to the issue of the CVRD’s plans for a homeless shelter in downtown Courtenay.
What a wonderful example of community leadership they have given us in being able to reevaluate their initial opposition and on more thorough examination — recognize that “helping the homeless is a moral and responsible initiative,” and go on to commend our civic leaders for their leadership.
Speaking for many in our community, I respectfully comment the DCBIA for their leadership in working to bring our community together around this issue.
It saddens me greatly to read of civic leaders like Manno Theos whose letter to your paper seems to be firing — Wild West-style — in any and all directions in hopes of hitting something somewhere that would directly or indirectly thwart the construction of a homeless shelter on the CVRD property.
I recently spoke to a public health professional who said the most effective (cost effective as well) treatment for mental illness among the homeless is (not too surprisingly) a warm, dry, secure place to live.
Indeed, while Theos cries about costs, studies nationally and internationally amply demonstrate that providing the homeless with a dry, warm, secure place to live is the most effective way of bringing down the costs of homelessness.
The provision of supportive housing substantially reduces the burden on hospitals, psychiatric care, police, jails and emergency services.
The actual costs vary, but the pattern is clear: homelessness is expensive, and substantial broad cost savings of 40 per cent have been achieved by investing in secure — not just overnight in extreme weather — housing for the homeless.
And the value is much more than the dollars of cost savings.
What is the value of saving the life of a person from pneumonia or hypothermia? What is the value of being able to say that —regardless of the failings and imperfections of others — we did our part?
I can only hope — come the civic elections — a flood tide of Courtenay citizens will stand with our downtown business community and the good will of people all over the Comox Valley in recognizing that this “helping the homeless is a moral and responsible initiative” and needs to be respected by our civic leaders as well.