LETTER: Shame on Squamish council | Squamish Chief

LETTER: Shame on Squamish council

This letter is in response to an article by Steve Chua, “District of Squamish’s low-rent campground to shut for the winter,” published in The Chief newspaper on Oct. 28.

I am writing to express my immense disappointment in council’s decision to close the District’s campground and force the relocation of many members of our community during a pandemic.

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I was deeply saddened, but not surprised, to read that Mayor Karen Elliott, along with councillors John French, Doug Race, and Eric Andersen, refer to the $34,000 it would take to safely accommodate the residents of the campground as a “sunk cost.”

For most of the past decade, I have worked in various roles providing care and support to the most vulnerable residents of this community, most of whom struggle to acquire and maintain housing.

I also have a deep respect for those that choose to live a minimalist lifestyle, provided they do not take resources away from those who truly need them.

During this same decade, we have watched our little town change to accommodate the fortunate, while, little by little, safe places for those at risk disappear.

The reality is that few, if any, reasonable options for their housing are in place. As it stands, people can either seek emergency shelter services, camp in the woods, along roads, or in residential neighbourhoods.

Council should realize the ripple effect of the displacement of an entire group of people when few if any reasonable options are in place.

It should be understood that the residents of the District campground are independent. They are paying a monthly fee and disposing of waste in appropriate facilities. They are not bothering anyone. They are willing and able to continue doing this through the winter months and have expressed as much to council.

Forcing people who currently live independently to seek emergency shelter services is not only the absolute opposite of where we should be as a society, but costs far more in the long run.

To call housing a group of people safely during a dual public health emergency a “sunk cost” is shameful.

People are not mere tokens in some bureaucratic, cost/benefit assessment.

Karen, Doug, Eric and John should feel really embarrassed.

Kudos to Jenna, Armand and Chris.

Thank you for doing what you can.

Rhea Thompson

Squamish

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