Referendum: Use empty schools for the homeless

Dear editor,

Our referendum asking voters if they want to pay an extra tax of $0.02 per $1,000 of assessed property value – $20 on a million dollar property – is distasteful and wasteful.

Would someone actually vote against such a modest proposal? How do we vote on compassion, especially when many of us are a missing paycheque away from losing our own homes?

So I will assume that this referendum will pass and I propose a solution to our community needs. Take a decommissioned school and use it as a base for homeless and under-homed people. The city is willing to put money into a property and there are indications that there will be a school or two available. The provincial and the federal governments could also be approached for funding to prepare the facility.

A school could offer a gym for sports, gatherings, even emergency sleeping; lockers for storage; showers; kitchens with lots of sinks and stoves for learning and sharing food preparation; sewing machines for repairing and creating, even providing money-making opportunities; the “shop” with manual skill training tools and areas from woodworking to fixing vehicles; a science lab; a parking lot giving access to trucks, buses, Care-A-Van; a sports field for sports, garden, gatherings; standard classrooms for upgrading, training, job skill counseling, to list a few of the ready amenities. It is a rich resource.

An elementary school or middle school might lack some of these amenities but they could be added. And it would be a social experiment too – if you build it, they will come. It is time to gather resources, use our imagination and energy, and create a place to belong for those who need it. Our community could lead the way.

Dorothy Drubek

Courtenay