Letters to the Editor

Burnaby must work with the region to alleviate homelessness

Re: Mayor Corrigan has his say on the homeless shelter issue (NewsLeader, Feb. 1)

I add my support to the letters criticizing Mayor Derek Corrigan's unwillingness to lead Burnaby to acknowledge and act on the pervasive homelessness situation. It seems Burnaby is the only municipality not making a concerted visible effort to provide some useful shelter in this regard. Corrigan's tired stance of blaming other levels of government for not taking stronger measures, and his washing his hands—and those of city council under his outspoken leadership—only makes me ashamed.

This NIMBYism is distasteful, and purporting to differentiate the "working poor" from those homeless as "beyond hope" is arrogant and uncharitable.

When I spent time volunteering in a soup kitchen, I saw the very thin line separating the "haves" and the "have nots," meaning sometimes circumstances in our lives can suddenly devastate anybody, and there but for the grace of God, I myself have otherwise been so fortunate.

Homelessness is pervasive across the Metro Vancouver, and each municipality should add tangible resources to decrease the numbers. We should not quibble about the criteria and split hairs, as the problem is not "theirs" but ours too, and we must take up the challenge and our responsibilities. We must work with all other sectors and stakeholders throughout the region to seek and coordinate pragmatic solutions, to place our energy and minds behind those others who try.

We cannot and must not just walk away, nor turn our backs on our brethren.

John de Couto


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