Opinion: Red Deer city council making homeless problem worse

City council’s decision to not renew Safe Harbour society site is both dangerous and poorly thought out.

What do they think homeless people with addictions are going to do when they no longer have shelter from the elements and a place with washrooms and showers? Do they think they will just pack up and more to another town or city? Of course not.

Especially as winter approaches they will seek shelter from the elements. That could mean more break ins, more crime and more desperate people harassing the citizens downtown. You think it’s bad now just wait until they have no roof over the head when it’s 20 below or worse. It’s as if the city thinks they can make the problems go away by making it worse?

What if the city followed the examples of cities who are doing much better than us, like Medicine Hat. What if we looked for creative solutions instead of pretending it will just go away if we make these homeless people suffer more?

Here are a few of my ideas.

What if there was a day time drop-in centre for the homeless? Maybe it could have some amenities like TVs, shuffleboard and ping pong tables and chairs and tables to play cards for just to visit with each other. Then they would have a place to go during the day other than hang out on the streets and harass the people who work and shop downtown.

What if the city ran a lotto with great prizes (maybe donations) or cash to pay for the centre?

What if the city employed some of homeless (who don’t have addictions). They would be given the job to clean up the downtown and the city parks. They would only need to employed a few hours a day and then would have a little spending money for whatever. They would then have less need to pan handle citizens.

What if these people were given blue vests to wear when they are working. They then might look like security people and make people feel safer? And what if any city employee working on the streets downtown also wore the blue vests. Just seeing all those vests would sure make the streets look safer.

Why blue? Because psychology studies have found that blue is the colour of trust. Adding to the appearance of safety.

I have more ideas but my point is that we need creative leaders with fresh ideas or some creativity training for the decision makers. Putting you head in the sand and pretending it will just away just isn’t going to work.

Edward McBeth, Red Deer