Letters to the Editor

First step to change is accepting its necessity

posted Jul 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM; Roger Albert – Guest columnist So, the CVRD board has decided to give you an opportunity on Nov. 15 to express your support for, or opposition to, creating a service in support of affordable housing and helping the homeless. It will be in the form of a non-binding market-type survey. Well, at least, that’s something more than we have now. November 15 is not that far off, but it still gives us some time to consider alternatives and arguments for and against creating a CVRD service in support of affordable housing and projects aimed at ending homelessness in the Comox Valley. Of course, some folks are going to be opposed to such a move no matter what arguments are put before them or how thick the evidence is in support of it.  Their minds are already made up. The truth is that there is an underlying and strong prejudice in our society against the poor and homeless. Some people simply see them as moral degenerates, undeserving of any help.  After all, we achieved everything we have with just hard work, right? Well, they argue, it’s fine to hand out a few bags of groceries at a food bank, provide lunch at a soup kitchen or emergency shelter for those who need it, but there should be no doubt that helping the poor too much removes any incentive they might have had to work or get more training to ‘better’ themselves. Other folks, the majority of us, I believe, have sympathy for the poor, homeless and disadvantaged. Some of us see inequity as a social justice issue. We... read more

Should curling take priority over homelessness?

posted Jun 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM ; Roger Albert – Guest columnist What will it take? In 2008 the then mayor of Courtenay, Starr Winchester, wrote these words in a letter prefacing the release of Homeless!, the report of the City of Courtenay Mayor’s Task Force on Breaking the Cycle of Mental Illness, Addiction and Homelessness in the Comox Valley: “The issue of homelessness is complex and difficult to solve in isolation.  We recognize that resolving this issue will require the co-operation and partnership of all levels of government as well as community partners. “I strongly support the recommendations contained in this report and look forward to forming partnerships in order to address these very serious issues in our community.” That was six years ago. The mayor expresses strong support for the recommendations of the Task Force, including using a Housing First approach (Google it!). These are laudable words from the former mayor, but the recommendations of the Task Force are a long way from being achieved. It’s not as if nothing has happened to deal with homelessness, mental health and addictions in the community, but we’re still just managing the problem and not really getting anywhere in ending homelessness and creating affordable housing. I know our elected officials want to be fiscally responsible and I applaud them for that. To do the fiscally responsible thing now would be to implement a Housing First model and to create a CVRD service and a municipal non-profit society to manage and champion housing and service initiatives. We know that putting people in homes first and then providing them with adequate supports to deal with their physical... read more

Homelessness is a Valley-wide issue

by  Andrew Lochhead – Comox Valley Record; posted Jun 10, 2014 at 12:00 PM ROGER ALBERT (Guest columnist) I sincerely applaud Courtenay for moving ahead on the Braidwood project, but I also know that the population of Courtenay is 37 per cent of the Valley population. Why should Courtenay residents stand alone in dealing with this Valley-wide issue? Any solution to this thorny problem needs to be a Valley-wide one and the CVRD is the logical choice to get action started by creating an arms-length non-profit society to champion the issue. The reality is that Braidwood addresses only a limited portion of the population in housing need. There are many organizations in town that desperately want to see appropriate and affordable housing built for their clients. At the moment, there is no way to effectively and independently evaluate projects and to decide on the most deserving or the most pressing ones, so the provincial government can argue that we don’t speak with one voice and we won’t get any provincial funding until we do. A local government non-profit society would be able to access and leverage funds in ways municipalities and regional districts cannot. It’s conceivable that such an organization could be self-supporting in a reasonable period of time. Some people are going to argue that we shouldn’t be spending a dime on housing anybody because if you’re poor and homeless or living in precarious accommodations it’s your fault and you don’t deserve any help.  You must be lazy or unwilling to get training to ‘improve’ yourself.  That may be true in a minority of cases, but physical and mental health issues create poverty and homelessness... read more

Friends of Maple Pool counter Courtenay’s claims

by  Contributed – Comox Valley Record; posted Apr 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM Council chants the mantra of flood risk: “Some have commented that the risk from flooding is low and is limited simply to ‘wet feet’.” Most prominent is Judge Robin Baird who found “flooding in 2009/2010 was inconvenient and messy, but nothing more.” Further: •    Flooding in 2009/2010 was entirely due to releases of water by BC Hydro which far exceeded its guidelines; •    The City has in the past dealt with such potential legal liabilities by simple waivers of liability. Council cites ‘knee-deep or higher’ water in 2009/2010 — true on its face. But it is confined to sites removed/abandoned after the floods. There has since been no permanent residential occupation of these sites. The Court concluded ‘flooding was inconvenient and messy, but nothing more.’ Ladies and gentlemen of Courtenay Council: Elvis has left the building! Although flooding technically occurred in 2009 and 2010, a council with greater integrity and greater devotion to truth would have acknowledged floods occurred at the end of ’09 and beginning ’10; i.e., in one flood season and because of one-off special circumstances. ‘The property nearly flooded again in 2011.’ Who defines ‘nearly? The City was thoroughly thrashed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia when trying to make a case based on actual flooding in 2009/2010. Now council relies on ‘nearly?’ “We have attempted to resolve this situation outside the courts numerous times.” We challenge council to list and date the occasions on which they have made these numerous attempts. Councillors accuse campsite owners Dali and Jin Lin of neglecting for three years to initiate... read more