“As a society, we need to provide these individuals with every opportunity to change their lives for the better,” writes Dan Deresh. Photo: Jon Tyson/Unsplash

“As a society, we need to provide these individuals with every opportunity to change their lives for the better,” writes Dan Deresh. Photo: Jon Tyson/Unsplash

No easy answers to addiction and homelessness in Trail

Letter to the Editor from Dan Deresh

Recent letters published by the Trail Times lament the drugs and homelessness issues in Trail.

The letters echo a common belief that drug users are being “attracted” to Trail because the town has a homeless shelter and some basic supports for the people living on the fringes of society.

There’s no easy answers to problems like drug addiction and homelessness.

The only “easy” thing to do is blame the minimal services and supports that exist for this vulnerable population as: “making the problem worse.”

These services and supports do bring added visibility to the issues that many residents would prefer keep out of sight and out of mind.

It’s uncomfortable.

It’s sad.

And it’s a fact of life in almost every community in Canada, from the big cities right down to the small towns like ours.

People don’t get addicted to drugs in Vancouver, become homeless, then decide to move to Trail because they heard we got a homeless shelter.

You might not recognize their faces, but you’d be surprised to learn just how many of these people were born and raised in the Kootenays.

Maybe a kid moves from Nelson to Trail because he burned his bridges with family over drug use.

Maybe someone from Castlegar moved here to try for a fresh start after becoming known for the wrong reasons in his or her hometown.

You might not recognize the face, the point is, they are already a part of our Kootenay community, not “outsiders” bussed in from “the city” to take advantage of our services.

The opioid crisis is real.

As a society, we need to provide these individuals with every opportunity to change their lives for the better.

Ignoring the problem and choosing to blame the support services instead will only drive this population further toward the fringes and possibly lock them into a lifetime of drug use and the crimes needed to support their habit.

In closing, I would like to empathize with those who sincerely feel afraid to walk downtown.

I agree that more police foot patrols downtown would increase the perception of safety.

But, in the long term, unless there are supports that help transition people from life on the street, including homeless shelters, safe injection sites, etc. — the safety issue will get worse, not better.

If our future is at stake, the time to invest in solutions is now.

Dan Deresh,

Trail

City of TrailLetter to the Editor