OPINION: Food, shelter needed here

It’s been one step forward and one step back lately when it comes to helping out those in need on the West Shore.

Two church groups are offering free meals, something new for the West Shore.

This is long overdue. While there is a great group of committed volunteers at the Goldstream Food Bank, providing hot, cooked food is an essential community service.

People who sleep in the bushes by the Galloping Goose or other places don’t have access to cooking facilities. Providing even a couple of meals a month gives low-income families and individuals a chance to have some healthy food and, equally important, feel a part of the community.

Congratulations to the groups taking the initiative to provide these services.

On the other hand, the West Shore Youth Housing Task Force hit stumbling block, through no fault of anybody’s really.

A plan to convert portable classrooms into temporary housing for homeless youth was scrapped because of the costs and time associated with going through a rezoning process with the City of Langford.

The group is still pressing forward on its plan for a permanent shelter, but that could take some time and in the meantime youth are sleeping outside or on couches often to avoid bad situations at home.

What these initiatives really need are support from municipalities. While Langford clearly has a responsibility not to force through rezoning applications, maybe there is something it and other municipalities on the West Shore can do to expedite bringing a shelter to the area.

Studies show it costs more money to support a homeless population than it does to house it and provide the services needed to turn lives around.

As the West Shore grows by leaps and bounds, now is the time to address the problem and establish the infrastructure, while it is still manageable.


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