Recently, I had the opportunity to co-host a town hall meeting in Rutland alongside Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.
Rutland residents attending were frustrated and in a word, mad. They have a right to be.
One of the most discussed issues in the meeting was crime. As one of Rutland's representatives, I am aware that the rising crime rates have been a major concern for some time.
Numerous residents spoke about their feelings of unease and insecurity due to escalating petty crimes, burglaries, and drug-related offences. It was clear that there is an urgent need for action.
One of the primary strategies to address crime is fostering stronger local connections between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
I will continue to advocate for the expansion of community-based policing, which emphasizes collaboration and communication with residents and community leaders.
This approach not only enhances the visibility of law enforcement officers in areas most impacted by crime but also fortifies the trust and cooperative spirit amongst residents.
In addition to this, we are committed to pushing for increased support from the provincial government to invest more resources in our local law enforcement agencies. By lobbying for these resources, we aim to equip our officers with the tools they need to provide effective, efficient, and responsive policing services.
The collective efforts of all community members, coupled with a properly funded police force, can make Rutland a safer place for all its residents.
Homelessness was the second major issue on the minds of Rutland residents.
While it is a complex and multifaceted issue, we need compassionate, effective strategies that address its root causes, including mental health issues and drug addiction.
One common government solution is providing supportive housing programs that provide secure, affordable housing coupled with essential support services.
Rutland already has a disproportional amount of supportive housing and, unfortunately, the supportive housing built in Rutland has not been supportive at all. A study this past year by UBCO showed how weak health supports were for the mentally ill in supportive housing.
Simply put, the government is failing on this point.
I believe in the BC United Better is Possible plan, and believe that only this plan will result in a different trajectory for the homeless population. To briefly summarize this plan, it would expand the wrap-around services, like access to treatment and recovery, that the current government-run supportive housing lacks.
I will continue to advocate for this creation of a comprehensive network of services that empower individuals to break the cycle of homelessness, rather than offering temporary, Band-Aid solutions.
Lastly, there was anger expressed with the perceived lack of consultation or recognition of Rutland residents from the government.
Five supportive housing projects have been put in Rutland despite great opposition from the community,
In addition, a social development office was also placed in Rutland and this was the final straw for many residents attending our town hall.
The people of Rutland, and indeed all constituents, have the right to be heard by those in elected office.
But not just heard – listened to. Greater transparency, accountability, and involvement of the community in decision-making processes is fundamental to a functioning democracy.
I am listening, and will continue to ask the questions, and give residents of Rutland a direct line of communication. In addition, we're exploring options for digital communication channels to reach more people and provide them with opportunities to share their views.
Our town hall meeting in Rutland was a significant step in understanding the key issues that our community is grappling with. Norm and I are committed to taking your concerns to Victoria, advocating for our community, and working tirelessly to make Rutland a safer, more prosperous place to live.
I want to express my gratitude to the residents of Rutland for their participation and their passion. Your insights and perspectives are invaluable to our work. Together, we can navigate these challenges and foster a resilient, thriving community for us all.
My question to you is this:
If you are unable to attend the town halls planned over the summer, what would like to share with me?
I love hearing from you and read every single email you send.
Please email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.