Housing and the homeless

Letters

I can’t help noting a certain irony about the Prestige Hotel being held as the venue for the District of Sooke’s recent forum on homelessness and affordable housing, however, the sound system didn’t work and they couldn’t seem to control the air conditioning, so I suppose even the affluent have their problems.

The district posed the question to the charitable minded room, “what do you need from us?” My initial thoughts were, governments can’t touch anything without making at least two more problems for every one they propose to fix, and the road to hell is paved with good intentions. While some hands were out, the answer that resonated best with me was “get out of our way,” in respect to a rezoning application by one organization planning to provide a facility on Church Road. It was also suggested “not to let perfection stand in the way of good enough,” which I thought was a great line.

“…the poor you have with you always,” and there is a valid place for government in our affairs, so long as it is kept in mind that the government takes from us by force that which would otherwise be given charitably, then wastes most of it.

The morning rant off my chest, I have some suggestions:

1) The sewer tax is charged on vacant properties, which is patently unreasonable. To balance things out, the district could off-set sewer charges to charitable developments, particularly if laundry and public shower facilities are offered.

2)      Poor people have children, and housing is but one of a host of problems caused by lack of money, not necessarily any deficiency of character. Children are expensive. Programs like Strong Start cannot be run without a place. Schools could be given an offset in sewer charges to make space and facilities available for children’s programs.

3)  Every other Tuesday we have literally thousands of dollars in blue-box money sitting by the curb, protected with an enforced CRD “no-scavenging” bylaw. Apparently the recycling program really needs the money. I think if anyone is willing to humble themselves to pick through the garbage, they probably need it more than the CRD does, and we should give them a permit to do so.

4) The typical response by the district to a complex problem like this is to charter an expensive consultant. This issue is neither novel nor new, and a good start for Sooke would be to go to this web site and download The Municipal Role in Meeting Ontario’s Affordable Housing Needs. http://www.ontarioplanners.on.ca/pdf/Handbook_022801.pdf

Terrance Martin

Sooke

As of this issue the Sooke News Mirror will discontinue printing letters from council candidates until after the upcoming election.