We all knew this cold snap was coming, as we did the last one in November. Back in November, I reached out to the Smithers Mayor, the Salvation Army, Emergency Services, and the Friendship Centre to find out what was going to happen during the cold snap for our population of unhoused citizens.
I got the royal run-around. No one was open, no one had authority, no one had staff, no one had liability insurance, and blah, blah, it went on and on.
I was furious then, and I am even more furious now. It has been a month in-between cold snaps. There was an open letter from Smithers Mayor, our MP Taylor Bachrach and MLA Nathan Cullen for citizens to open their doors, give any help, give ideas. You know what? This homeless camp has been in Veterans Park, or perviously the “jungle” for years.
Other communities have gotten their poop in a group and made things happen. Tiny homes, cottage communities, and so on. B.C. Housing is helping with these mostly modular solutions and they do not cost as much as a new Portland Loo. Even groups sponsor tiny home villages for people such as veterans, you can see the ads on T.V. It’s incredible to me “we have no idea what to do” is the response I most often get.
We should be well past the “Do you have any ideas?” question at this point. Smithers is lacking,
I’m sorry for feeling that way, but I think this situation is ridiculous. We don’t have taxis to even take our unhoused to a warm place if there was one, or worse, to the hospital if nothing else.
Calling an ambulance for these situations is not ideal either, as some have suggested, since it takes away from the available services to those in accidents or desperate medical need.
I know the Salvation Army has a bit of a warming centre open for the moment, but are sorely in need of volunteers to help.
Now everyone is on holidays or not answering my messages.
What is it going to take for action? Death? That is what we all know is going to happen.
What have I done? I have taken blankets, jackets, socks, mittens, toques, hand and foot warmers, taken them to Veterans Park, and even given them out of my car to those I see holed up at McDonalds and on the street. What can you do? Anything! It’s a heck of a lot better than nothing or turning the other way.
I know our community has lost a lot of compassion over the past couple of years, but this is one way to claw it back. Do something, take coffee, volunteer a couple hours at the Salvation Army, do anything, demand more from council, don’t just look the other way, you are needed. We are all needed right now and into the months to come.
Maybe Gladys, Taylor and Nathan can open their offices during the day for coffee, tea and warm places to go.