Trail city council met with representatives from the RCMP and Community Development Services (CDS) at a Government and Operations Committee meeting on Feb. 22 to discuss how to help the city’s most vulnerable.
“The city has been in receipt of several correspondences from community members and businesses who are concerned about the vulnerable population in our town and as a result council requested that CDS, Sheila Adcock, and RCMP come forward and do a presentation,” said Mayor Lisa Pasin. “It was an opportunity for council as well as our citizens to get an update on what is happening in our community to help with vulnerable populations.”
RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich and Sheila Adcock from CDS provided insight into the challenges, supports, and evolving approach in dealing with individuals who are on the street and those who aren’t, including vulnerable seniors.
“Trail RCMP have taken a proactive approach in dealing with mental health and addiction as well as homelessness and poverty,” Wicentowich said at the meeting. “Especially during COVID times, what we’ve seen is a much greater need for providing a type of social support for our local community, and it’s not just people on the street, it’s everybody.”
Adcock, a 26-year veteran with CDS, has worked with individuals who have significant barriers, complex needs, mental health and addiction illnesses and learning disabilities. CDS also runs the cold weather shelter where many go for the basic needs of rest, warmth, clothing, a shower and a hot meal.
Since Wicentowich joined the RCMP detachment in Trail, Adcock says the support from the RCMP has been exceptional.
“It’s making our job a lot easier because in the past, typically when RCMP were involved it was to incarcerate or arrest, and now in working with them, they have a more proactive status as opposed to reactive,” said Adcock. “The respect that’s shown by the RCMP to the individuals we serve doesn’t go unnoticed. It decreases the anxiety for the individuals at the shelter, in the community, as well as the staff.”
Council addressed Trail citizens’ concerns, asking Wicentowich and Adcock tough questions related to criminal activity, drug use in downtown alleys, RCMP staffing, low vacancy rates, increasing costs of housing, creating new supportive housing and where to locate it, increased supports for addictions and mental health, and mitigating homelessness.
They recognized the need for more supports, like housing, yet finding a neighbourhood that would welcome a fully staffed facility is an ongoing challenge. Wicentowich and Adcock made it clear that criminal activity, mental health and addiction issues will not go away, but educating the public and directing resources to provide supportive housing should be a priority for the community and the province.
“I think if we got supportive housing in place, 30-or-40 units, the need for the shelter would decrease,” said Adcock. “People that stay in the shelter have been there a very long time, they just can’t find housing. If they were housed, the shelter numbers would drop, and we would definitely put our hat in the ring to supply staff.”
The temporary shelter is set to close its doors in March, and there are few affordable or available alternatives other than camping on crown land.
“Having a full-time larger shelter, and/or having a supportive housing complex would be a big help for our city,” said Pasin. “It would stabilize the population, they would have food, they would have clothing, they would have shelter.”
Coun. Sandy Santori also weighed in asking the public for patience and compassion.
“As a community, I think we are doing as much as we possibly can. As a society we need to become more compassionate and more tolerant.
“I think the vast majority of people are very good, but we have to realize that these are somebody’s kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews and they need support.”
Residents can view the presentation online, go to trail.ca for youtube link.