Getting real with homelessness

I had an unusual experience in the last few days. A homeless gentleman showed up in my pub one evening. He was friendly enough. He paid for some food and a few drinks and then hung about with some of our regulars for the evening who ended up putting him up for the night. While homeless folks are pretty common in Calgary, it is unusual in Priddis as we have little in the way to shelter them.

The next morning the fellow showed up in our coffee shop and hung about there for the day. Again, he caused no problems and bought a couple items. He is pretty rough around the edges though and made our younger staff members in the coffee shop a little uncomfortable. He then moved into the pub for the evening when it opened. He ate a pizza and then wandered off to where he had camped.

This morning the poor devil showed up at the coffee shop at 7am quite frozen and exhausted. It turns out that while he had a tent, he had no sleeping bag or blanket. He says he had heard large animals moving about in the night which is very possible as we have many cougars and black bears in the area. He was quite miserable and had barely slept.

I had tried to coax him into coming to Calgary with me yesterday to no avail. He was quite eager for a lift into the city today after his experience last night. I drove him in and dropped him off downtown today.

I had a long conversation with him on the drive. It sounds like this guy led an interesting though rough life (as I am sure is the case with many homeless). Substance abuse had taken it’s toll on him physically and while I am not a professional by any means it was pretty clear to me that while the gentleman was quite smart, he had some serious mental health issues.

This man was harmless and troubled. I very much hope he finds some help and settles in somewhere.

Now what I am getting to with this long ramble is that we have to get over this ridiculous and ongoing notion of “ending homelessness” and get more realistic in mitigating it. The man I was dealing with in this last couple few days will never be able to hold down a regular job and likely will never be able to place himself into a position where he can maintain an independent living arrangement. This man needs help mentally and fiscally and will need a degree of care to ensure that he doesn’t come to harm.

Rent controls, forcing developers to build certain housing units, secondary suites etc. and all the rest of that trash that comes from these initiatives to “end homelessness” will do nothing to aid folks like the man I met this week and the thousands of others who are in similar states yet this is exactly what these people who claim to want to end homelessness keep focussing on.

We need to realize that there are some people who will forever be transient no matter what we offer for housing. Some of these people will never kick their substance abuse nor will they somehow beat mental health issues.

Let’s work with those realities and see how we can best help these people with realistic mitigation and care options instead of pursuing expensive pie-in-the sky housing goals that will not help the people who have truly fallen through our cracks in society. I know that the authors of these countless initiatives are predominantly well meaning, but they are also blinding themselves to the true realities of some of these situations.

We need to invest more heavily in mental health facilities and yes, even have some people institutionalized at times. We also need to invest much more in temporary sheltering and substance abuse treatment. The funds wasted chasing potheads around would be well spent on this for example.

Like so many things (such as native issues), we need policy makers to work on dealing with hard realities rather than fluffy ribbon cuttings. It will make a world of difference to us all down the road.

::rant off::

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Calgary Foothills by-election will be an exciting one and critical for all parties

I should begin with explaining my two month hiatus from blogging and take advantage of the chance to plug my latest venture. Shortly after last spring’s exhausting general election, my wife Jane and I decided to treat our exhaustion with the purchase of a pub and coffee shop in Priddis. With six weeks of planning and renovations we managed to crack the doors of the pub two weeks ago and the coffee shop just last weekend. This of course has taken up nearly every minute of our time in this last couple months. We were never under any illusion that this would be some kind of easy money. So far things are going great.

Info on both can be found on the facebook page. Our main website is still under development. https://www.facebook.com/WatersEdgePub

janesNow, on to the by-election in Foothills.

The NDP will be putting everything they have into the race in order to prove that their election as government was not the accidental consequence of an electorate lashing back at the corrupted and entitled Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. The Wildrose Party will be throwing everything they have into the race in order to prove that they are more than a rural party and that they are indeed the government in waiting. The remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party will be throwing what little they have into the race in desperate hopes that they can regain relevance in the eyes of the voters. The Alberta Party will put all they have into the race in hopes of proving that they are more than a one seat show. That will be tough as the hipster density in Northwest Calgary is far lower than that of Calgary Elbow.

Staying true to principle, the Wildrose Party is holding an open nomination race for Foothills. Nomination races are always challenging as all the contenders are on the same team and the races can become internally divisive if a party is not careful. These races are critical in letting members directly choose who will represent them in the legislature too. The ongoing gross abuse of nomination races by the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta was a large contributing factor in the collapse of their member support.

The Wildrose has two excellently qualified contenders for the nomination in Foothills and a third fellow who I admittedly don’t know much about.  Those people are Kathy McDonald, Prasad Panda and Dr. John Huang.

I won’t say much on Dr. Huang as I can’t find much information about him.

Much like last spring’s general election, this by-election will be based on principles and trust more than ideology. Both Prasad Panda and Kathy McDonald proved their principles and loyalty in their remaining loyal to and putting their all into the Wildrose Party after the Idiotic Eleven crossed the floor which led to their well deserved and mass unemployment. That dogged and determined loyalty is essential in gaining the trust and faith of the members.

When looking at the two contenders though I have to solidly endorse Prasad Panda.

Residency is important for representation. While MLAs can effectively serve without living in their constituency, they do connect best with their constituents if they actually live in the constituency. Panda has been a resident of Foothills for a long time. In a tight race, the electoral viability of the candidate is important and that edge of being local will certainly help.

The most important reason to get Prasad Panda into the legislature though is that we need some strength in there for the energy sector. With Notley’s appointment of a totally unqualified Energy Minister who is aided by an anti-energy activist as her Chief of Staff, the energy industry in Alberta is reeling. Alberta has had to rely on Premier Brad Wall to stand up for our interests while Notley tries to give veto power over Alberta’s energy development to Quebec. Alberta is in a terrifying spot under the Notley regime and we need qualified and wise voices to speak to our industry needs in the legislature.

With over 25 years as an engineer in Alberta’s energy industry, Prasad Panda is excellently qualified to address issues in the industry and to add a much needed voice of reason to our legislature on these issues. If we continue to allow Notley to run unchecked over our energy industry in these next few years the consequences will be dire for the entire province.

I strongly encourage the Wildrose Party Calgary Foothills members to vote for Prasad Panda to represent them in the nomination. Having worked with Prasad in two election campaigns, I truly can’t think of a more principled and dedicated candidate. Many a night I had to chase him from the campaign headquarters at 1am as he would not give up. He will put everything he has into representing the constituents who elect him. Truly the only fault I can attribute to Prasad is that he can be prone to overworking himself.

prasadMore info on Prasad can be found here: http://www.prasadpanda.ca/  Drop him a note. Prasad is always happy to directly interact.

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