Kelowna councillor says housing isn't enough for street-entrenched population - InfoNews

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Kelowna councillor says housing isn't enough for street-entrenched population

Mohini Singh
June 27, 2019 - 3:44 PM

KELOWNA - Kelowna Coun. Mohini Singh feels powerless to help the many people in the city battling homelessness along with their drug and alcohol addictions.

“Council’s mandate is issues of zoning, housing, lights, sewer, that kind of stuff,” she told today, June 27.

“Social issues have become the biggest focus for us. We don’t have the money to deal with this level of a crisis. We absolutely need help from the B.C. government. They have to step in. There has to be follow-through. There has to be more of a wrap-around service. We can’t do it. We don’t have the infrastructure. We don’t have the money.”

Singh’s comments echo those of West Kelowna General Manager of Development Services Nancy Henderson who told her council on Tuesday that dealing with homelessness, crime and the opioid crisis is a provincial issue.

Similar thoughts were expressed by Kelowna Coun. Charlie Hodge a week ago.

Singh’s comments also follow on the heels of yesterday’s provincial government announcement on a new action plan to help people with mental health and addiction issues that focuses, largely, on youth.

“We need that as well,” Singh said. “I’ll take what I can get, but we need more.”

While the initial responses to a video she posted to her Facebook page on the issue were positive, Sandy Vernerey went on the attack after Singh said, in the video, that experts have promoted the housing first strategy and “we can’t arrest our way out of this.”

“Who the hell are these ‘experts’ you’re listening to? Vernerey wrote. “How about listening to the voters of this city (who) are sick of the pandering and politically correct BS. Here’s a thought, let them die. Problem solved. Enough with the pandering. These people chose their path, let them walk it...”

Singh told that she and other councillors take resident’s concerns to heart, that they’ve been supportive of providing housing for the homeless but the province needs to do more than putting roofs over people’s heads.

“I was at Cornerstone (emergency shelter) and I met a young man who did manage to go to rehab,” she said.

“He came out of there, had nowhere to go, phoned his mom to say ‘I want to come home.’ She phoned his social worker and said ‘I don’t want him back.’ He’s back on the street, at Cornerstone. He’s back on drugs.

“That’s my point. We’re approving these houses with the zoning and, then, B.C. Housing is supposed to have absolute control over this. And, then what? Where do they go from there? That is my point.”

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