Letter to the Editor published in the Victoria Times Colonist, 26 August 2010
Re: “Picnic brigade reclaims patch of Pandora Avenue,” Aug. 22.
I live in the immediate vicinity of downtown Victoria, with all the social problems of homelessness and substance misuse outside my doorstep.
I would, of course, prefer that poor people had housing options outside our public parks. I would prefer to see those managing addictions afforded a range of treatment options, from safe-consumption sites to publicly funded residential treatment.
But rather than relegate our street community to the status of a permanent underclass, I am committed to the redistribution of resources. Our tax system provides a mechanism to take income from me (and those far more affluent) to build social housing and provide treatment. This should be a higher priority than the Band-Aid solution of policing the poor.
At the same time, we must not lose sight of the big picture: an economic system that privileges property over human rights, denying shelter to vulnerable people in one of richest countries on Earth.
This contradiction — poverty in the midst of plenty — is not new. But that does not make it any less abhorrent, nor any less deserving of root-and-branch reform.