Many years ago, I moved to Victoria. I moved away a few times for work, but always came back.
Victoria was always a beautiful city, advertising itself as “The City of Gardens”. People were friendly and polite. Yes there were some slow drivers, and you might get stuck behind a little old lady on an escalator, but overall it was a safe fun place to live. Downtown in the summertime was bustling with tourists and newly weds…
What happened? Now there seems to be many closed stores downtown, and the sidewalks are covered with homeless people begging for change. There seems to be garbage everywhere, from small litter to shopping carts. Some of the city streets and parks resemble third world shanty towns1
. (I know of at least one street where you can’t walk down the sidewalk because a) it is blocked by piles of”homeless people” stuff, and b) you don’t really feel safe)
Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing but sympathy and compassion for people who are down on their luck. Heaven knows I have had some hard times. This rant is not aimed at them, it is aimed at the people who have decided they want to take advantage of the rest of society’s charity while living a “homeless” lifestyle. I have heard there are posters, and even websites (I even found someone selling a book online. No I will not link to it) telling people how to come to Victoria and stay for free, eating at food banks, camping in public parks, and generally using up resources better served helping people who really need them. Yes I have seen “homeless” people using iPhones and tablets.
There are many societies dedicated to ending homelessness, but it seems to me that a large portion of the homeless do not want to change. I have met people who say they prefer the “homeless” lifestyle. They feel “entitled” to take over the sidewalks, to leave their garbage anywhere, and even come onto private property to root through garbage bins.
I also don’t believe that everyone needs to live the same lifestyle. Not everyone can or wants to work the 9 to 5 corporate ladder climbing existence. However I do believe that everyone is responsible for not only themselves, but others around them. We all need to contribute in some small way to society, whether creating art, cleaning up garbage, or designing the next iPad.
What is the answer? I don’t really know. The police are frustrated, City workers are frustrated, Business owners are frustrated. City councillors seem to be unsure of the situation. The city of Surrey figured out how to solve their problem, they gave each of their heroin addicts $20 and a ferry ticket to come to Victoria…