Letter: Kamloops councillor seeks to clarify motions on social issues

Says Bill Sarai: "We do not want to stop helping those in need get the help they deserve. Nothing about the motions is about wanting any organization to pull funding for people who need help."

Editor:

As a Kamloops city councillor, I represent the people of our amazing city and was elected to help citizens have their voices heard. I can’t come to city council meetings and have my decisions pre-determined. I need to listen and reflect on all voices that come to the table over the issues that affect this beautiful city. 

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Mayor and council have spent many months with owners of small businesses along Tranquille Road, along the West Victoria Street corridor and throughout our city, trying to help them protect their livelihood.

These small businesses are owned by our friends, colleagues and neighbours. When they are coming to work each day to find broken windows, their property defaced, fires having been set and other general criminal behaviour, it’s incredibly upsetting.

I’ve watched these businesses each day continue to struggle because of the locations. I’ve stood by them as they paid out of pocket to put up fences, improve lighting and install costly security systems they were told would help mitigate issues. Still, no tangible change has occurred. We’ve exhausted any good neighbour options to help these businesses protect their livelihoods.

Now, let’s all be clear — nothing about this motion states those coming from supportive housing do not land on their feet. We do not want to stop helping those in need get the help they deserve. Nothing about the motions put forward is about wanting any organization to pull funding for those who need help. Finally, none of these motions were voted on with raising taxes in mind. 

We desperately need wraparound services, which include 24/7 security, on-site nursing staff and mental-health and addiction counselling. The security is not there to take individuals suffering or in need into custody. Security is there to ensure those businesses have peace of mind at night. It is so our business owners don’t get a call at two in the morning to sort out the latest issue for which they need to pay out of pocket.

On-site nursing staff is needed so those who won’t visit the hospital can get needed medical attention. Counselling for mental-health and addiction issues is to show, in solidarity, that the city is here to support those in need, not stand against them. These individuals need more help and more support.

Yes, what is in place is helping some individuals land on their feet, but are we happy with only helping “some?” Why can’t we do more? Why can’t we help most, instead of some?

Opposition to this motion is the fear that it could suppress further supportive housing in Kamloops because the requirements are inconsistent with other communities. If an organization or the provincial government chooses to pull funding because of the fear that they need to be a good neighbour and actually help those struggling, then that is the real issue. To those in opposition, take a moment to truly reflect upon how security or support is going to be detrimental to the individuals or businesses struggling. Take a moment and ask yourself: Isn’t it finally time to be demanding more? Ask yourself: Are people in need getting enough? Ask yourself: Are the citizens who invested their life into the business getting enough? I don't believe so. I truly believe we are at our best when we all work together.

Teamwork and supporting one another is what makes Kamloops truly shine.

Thanks again.

Bill Sarai

Kamloops councillor

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