Finally a step forward for Comox Valley homeless — but, noooo

Dear editor,
If it weren’t so heart-wrenchingly sad, one might find something humorous in the all-too-common Comox Valley irony of having those who are first to speak for the need to have more effective Valley-wide governance be the first to start throwing stones.

Dear editor,If it weren’t so heart-wrenchingly sad, one might find something humorous in the all-too-common Comox Valley irony of having those who are first to speak for the need to have more effective Valley-wide governance be the first to start throwing stones when the Valley does come together to actually do something about homelessness.What I find to be a long ways short of humorous is this concerted storyline about this hasn’t been studied enough.Let’s go back to the drawing boards and start over; let’s build somewhere else; let’s do more consulting; let’s do anything but get on with the work of actually doing something about homelessness, the detractors chant in unison.Hasn’t been studied enough?!How is it that the City of Courtenay’s Mayor’s Task Force on Breaking the Cycle of Mental Illness, Addictions and Homelessness in the Comox Valley, the CVRD Commission to End Homelessness, the 2011 hiring of Butler Associates Consulting to report on local and provincewide research on data and best practices in ways to address homelessness that included interviewing 50 local stakeholders, local governments, planners, developers, non-profit groups like AHERO and Dawn to Dawn, not-for-profit service and housing providers, First Nations, health and social services, business and the faith community, workshops, open house events with opportunity to share and learn, video conferencing with Capital Region housing providers (e.g. Pacifica, Cool Aid, M’Akola, Our Place and the CRD Coalition to End Homelessness) to provide tangible advice on how to develop housing for the homeless, organization of a bus tour to visit homelessness facilities in the mid and south Island, and a public call for interest from property owners who had land to sell that met the criteria for a site for an emergency shelter that was evaluated by CitySpaces Consulting Ltd.The truly amazing thing — the thing that deserves our heartiest congratulations and even veneration is that the CVRD actually got beyond talk and did something.They could so easily have just gone on talking. They could have —easily — just said, as has been suggested, this is someone else’s responsibility. But they did — after an immense amount to research and consultation — come together in a Valley-wide effort to do something about homelessness. Thank you — all of you who have listened to all the talk and advice and wrangling and still brought out so much community goodwill — despite the inevitable NIMBYism — into purchasing a property for the construction of a homeless shelter that will save lives — saving people from dying of things like hypothermia but also saving people from succumbing to a lifetime of suffering from  illness and addiction.I urge anyone wanting to get real answers to questions about current plans to build a homeless shelter in Courtenay to go to the CVRD website at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca.It is time for Courtenay to actually live up to the idea of co-operative, Valleywide governance rather than leave all the rest of our community to wonder if Courtenay’s idea of working together is different from the edict of the Red Queen: “All ways are my ways!”Norm Reynolds,Courtenay

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