- Effective policing, targeting specific times and areas – having police on the beat, at the right time and in the right areas.
- Be tough on those who repeatedly participate in criminal behavior
- Maintain a supply of subsidized housing through strong relationships with BC Housing
- Funding for programs that address mental health/addiction issues, by maintaining the relationship we have with Fraser Health
- Offer shelter, help, and support to those people who want and accept shelter, help and support.
As council, we have focused a lot of time on crime, public safety and homelessness. Every year, we increase our budget so that we can add more police to our local detachment. We also ask our police to patrol certain areas during specific times, accompany our Bylaw Enforcement teams as they do their daily patrols, and ride their bikes through our network of trails. We have a police Community Response Team downtown, our downtown is being revitalized, and we want to do everything we can to keep that momentum going.
However, it is not illegal to be homeless, and we cannot stop the migration of people within our community. If we don’t want to see our homeless folks sleeping in shop doorways and hanging out in our parks, then we need to come up with some housing options. If addressing homelessness was easy, it would have been done already, since we have seen a steady increase in our homeless numbers over the last decade. But this is not unique to Chilliwack – every desirable community has a homeless issue.
Part of the solution, is to team up with the province and the federal governments, and lobby for funding. I sit on the Community Advisory Board as co-chair, where we decide how to allocate money that the federal government sends us through the Reaching Home Program. We have received over $1 million dollars over the last few years through this program, and it goes a long way to helping combat homelessness. Organizations like the Housing Hub, Salvation Army, etc. receive money to fund their programs, feed people, and keep people in their homes.
Part of the solution is to create and maintain local networks of service providers that focus on food security, shelter, and well-being. Over the last 4 years, I have been part of Chilliwack Healthier Community, Housing First Task Team, Chilliwack Youth Health Centre and other events that highlight the need to work together. And through this, I have seen that Chilliwack has an awesome network of service providers that do incredible things for our most vulnerable citizens.
Another part of the solution is to maintain the relationship we have with BC Housing and, to a lesser extent, CMHC. BC Housing comes to the table with funding for most of our new projects that provide subsidized housing. In the Paramount project now being built, CMHC also provided funding, along with BC Housing. This project will focus on subsidized housing for seniors and youth. A targeted approach that will bring much needed housing for this specific part of our vulnerable population.