When it comes to homelessness, mental health issues and drug addiction, there is only so much a municipal government can do.
Though municipalities, large and small, are dealing with these problems on their streets, the fundamental mandate — and the money — to deal with them is securely in the hands of the provincial and federal governments.
Nonetheless, as the closest level of government to the citizens, city councils are most often asked what they are doing about the problem(s).
There is no magic wand here. Penticton and other communities don’t have the resources or authority to deal with these issues. There are many organisations working in the community, like 100 Homes Penticton, Pathways and more, but there is only so much they can do.
These are problems that will probably never be dealt with completely. As the mayor said, you can’t force someone to give up their addiction or take a living space that is being offered to them. It has to be their choice.
For that matter, no community really wants to admit they have these problems on their streets, and that goes double for those with tourism-driven economies.
City hall was already taking shots on social media and elsewhere over the issue. Which makes the call for a conversation, bringing all the agencies, support groups and the public together to find solutions a bold move on city hall’s part.
Solutions is the key word here. Jumping on to social media to trash talk the mayor or councillors, or complain that they should have been talking about this long ago, or questioning the motive isn’t helping.
Penticton, and all the other communities dealing with these problems need not just a plan to take to senior levels of government, but the visible support from the citizenry — voters — as they lobby provincial and federal governments for change.