‘Zombies’ causing trouble in downtown Courtenay

Dear editor,

“The poor (homeless) will always be with you.” — J.C.

But do they really need to be so rude, crude and disgusting about it? Courtenay has a growing problem right now!

Dear editor,

“The poor (homeless) will always be with you.” — J.C.

But do they really need to be so rude, crude and disgusting about it? Courtenay has a growing problem right now!

Medicated “zombies” are shuffling through our downtown core, urinating and defecating in our parks and parking lots. They are drinking their medication in brown paper bags on our benches under our bridges and on our walk paths.

They want your spare change and if you say no they might spit on you, curse you out or even open your car door to challenge you.

During our Journey of Discovery, a local politician said that these concerns were a marginal problem. This is not marginal for the people or business affected.

If your wife or daughter is afraid to shop downtown or walk sections of our Airport Park, if your cashiers were traumatized by ignorant aggressive, cursing curb dwellers that wander into your store, (without intent to purchase anything) or your 90-year-old customers shoved and assaulted by this extreme brand of crazy, then it would not be marginal, would it?

These “zombies” were or are, our family and friends trapped in the cycle of addiction and/or mental illness and in response we need to be a compassionate and caring society. Allowing them to aimlessly loiter in our streets and parks is not compassionate or caring.

The proposed homeless shelter in downtown will not solve these problems and with a good neighbour agreement they will not add to the problem either. Yes, we need a homeless shelter, but what about the concerns of the business and citizens?

If you want the support of the people and citizens for this shelter, them listen and address our concerns. It’s obvious that some local politicians don’t really care about what we care about and just want to turn us into downtown Victoria, Nanaimo or Duncan — not a pretty sight watching desperate people pick through the cigarette butts in the restaurant ashtrays.

Let’s make this a win-win by addressing the very real concerns of the downtown merchants, residents and shoppers as part of the push for this local shelter.

I was told that this was impossible because the homeless have rights. Don’t I have rights too, don’t the tax-paying businesses and citizens have rights?

Some politicians don’t think so and even want to muzzle our voice. We will not be silent; I’m fed up with allowing continual criminal behaviour, which is affecting the enjoyment of our parks, our downtown businesses and residences.

We need a review of our city bylaws to ensure that acts of aggressive panhandling, public drinking or drunkenness, defecation and loitering are not permitted in our city.

We need a mental health unit to operate in conjunction with the police and courts to enforce bylaws and remove these people from our streets and into proper medical care or incarceration.

Let’s build appropriate mental health housing for those who cannot live by themselves in a responsible manner. Let’s take care of these most needy first and give them a shelter and get them off the streets. The most needy should be our first priority.

If we don’t demand better right now, we certainly won’t get it.

Say yes to a homeless shelter, and say yes to mental health removing and caring for those who desperately need someone to care.

These two issues are tied together and without addressing these concerns, the proponents of this shelter should never get the support they seek.

John Van Egmond,

Courtenay

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