No-one plans their life to live in poverty, become addicted to drugs or have mental health issues.
These are things that happen to members of our society through their life circumstances.
As members of a caring society we have a duty to support our most vulnerable citizens through affordable housing, shelter, an overdose prevention site which tests for contaminated drugs, and increased mental health care.
The RCMP reports that when support was more available during the pandemic, theft was down as there was less need to steal.
It could be on the rise again as those supports wind down.
Two afternoons each month, minimal support at best, people can gather for peer support through REDUN at Trail United Church.
(REDUN; Rural Empowered Drug Users Network)
Starting in September of this year, an overdose prevention site has been set up outside the same location to allow people to test and use their drugs under supervision and to provide information to users and the public.
A more informed population is needed, not more stigma and blame.
The homeless shelter recently increased their capacity to space for eighteen clients which is a step in the right direction.
Now we need a drop-in warming centre in the downtown core so that there is a daily, funded site for getting off the street, using tested drugs under trained supervision with staff knowledgeable in mental health issues.
If more people had a place to go they wouldn’t have to be on the street or annoying business owners.
Only so many people can fit into the shelter which is open during the day as well as at night.
If the funding was available to support more than two days/month for an overdose prevention site, progress could be made.
This population is not going to vanish no matter what people may wish.
People act as though the population is all from other places and this is simply not true.
Many are home grown from right here in the West Kootenay.
Addressing poverty, homeless and hard-to-house populations, addiction, and mental illness does help to reduce crime.
We need to address the root causes of our problems and start treating it as the medical issue that it is.
Personally I have no fear going into downtown Trail, I treat the street-entrenched people I meet with respect and they respond with respect.
Marie Skinner, Chairperson,
Communities in Faith United Church