How do we get back to feeling safe in our communities?
It’s clear that we have a growing problem with encampments in downtown Victoria and in many parks throughout the region. Crime statistics also show that there has been an increase in property crimes and incidents requiring the police. There are reasons that many people in Victoria report they’re feeling less safe living and working in their community.
The issue is becoming more prominent for many Chamber members, and we are working with decision makers to push for real solutions.
“There are a number of pillars that need to be in place for all of us to feel safe in our day-to-day lives,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. “Housing is the obvious one, and a lot of work has gone into finding long-term homes for people living in camps or on the streets. However, one area that we’re lacking is adequate care for people with mental health issues and addictions. Many people want help, but the nature of their illness makes them defensive of their circumstances and keeps them stuck in a cycle of despair. Unfortunately, this leaves many people vulnerable to predators who sell drugs or deal in stolen goods.”
Williams spoke with VicPD police chief Del Manak this week about how his department is stepping up enforcement, as well as how health professionals can help people whose homelessness is rooted in mental illness. A key component of this will be increasing the capacity of facilities that can provide adequate rehabilitation for addiction.
It’s also important to recognize that Greater Victoria is not alone in dealing with an opioid crisis concurrently with affordable housing concerns and a pandemic. We need to learn from success stories and avoid the policy pitfalls that have plagued other regions.