Referendum: Whose responsibility is homelessness?

Dear editor,

In the last municipal election, a non-binding referendum question was asked about a tax to support a homeless centre.

I was confused as to what level of government was responsible for this situation. According to the B.C. Housing Authority this is a three-part involvement. The municipal government buys the land, the federal government builds the structure, and the provincial government pays for the staffing. My understanding is all three levels of government need to be in agreement before there is any movement forward on this issue.

It appears that both the federal and provincial governments are not supportive of funding a homeless centre here. So, my question to the CVRD board is: why are we going through with this concept when only one level of government has any interest in pursuing this problem?

Secondly, I take offence to the nurses in the area wanting this structure built. Their support smells of special interest and job security. The medical profession is funded by transfer payments from the federal government, our income tax dollars, and provincial government funding via MSP, again from taxpayers. Should the nurses get their way, they would have their hands in our municipal tax pockets. This is a triple dip into the taxpayer wallet. If the nurses feel that strongly about homelessness, let their union dues pay the way forever.

Thirdly, any facility has regulations that residents must live by. Has such a list been put together and a survey done to ensure compliance? Exactly how many people are really in need of this centre? If these steps have not been taken, why are we doing this? My fear is that if this proceeds, we will be overrun with homeless people from across Canada.

Finally, I do no believe for one minute that, if this tax is implemented, it will stay constant. Departments will be created and staff hired with wages and benefit packages. All this funded on the backs of taxpayers.

Linda Johnson

Courtenay