June 25th, 2024

No amount of talk or meetings are going to solve the homelessness issue

By Lethbridge Herald on November 4, 2022.


There appears to be a lot of talk about homelessness and tent cities or encampments in Lethbridge this year and no one appears to know how to deal with it and come up with a solution other than talk about it and move a few homeless people around. 

 One letter to the editor on Oct. 26 mentioned one possible solution by saying if 70 per cent of the homeless in Lethbridge are Indigenous then perhaps the Blackfoot Confederacy should re-house them in Indigenous communities and failing that they should fund 70 per cent of the cost of dealing with this problem.

We all know that will never happen and is just wishful thinking, but I like the suggestion. 

The latest from City Hall and Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs (Herald Oct. 28), states that a shared response is vital in solving homelessness – sounds great but is all rhetoric and meaningless drivel.

I would think that if you have a problem that is not unique to your city then perhaps the people at City Hall tasked with finding a solution should look at other municipalities and find out how they dealt with this problem.

 After all there is no need to reinvent the wheel – copy what works elsewhere, perhaps tweak it a bit and away you go.

However, there is one minor problem – no one has found a solution yet, and to organize meeting after meeting and to say all the right things just does not cut it although it perhaps justifies some well-paying jobs with fancy titles and salaries at City Hall.

Here is one example: Mayor Gregor Robertson, before being elected mayor of the City of Vancouver in 2008, promised that he would solve the homelessness problem by 2015. In 2008, there were approximately 1,536 people homeless in Vancouver. 

 After having served as mayor of Vancouver for 10 years the homeless population had grown to approximately 2,200, so instead of fixing the problem it had grown worse. So in other words there really is no solution. 

Talk is cheap – politicians come and go and life goes on: we’ll just throw a lot of money at it and that’s about it.

Barney Feenstra


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Southern Albertan

It never hurts to explore successful solutions from elsewhere to judge whether it may be solutions here. This:
“Here’s how Finland solved its homelessness problem”
Subtitles include: “An ideology, Constant support, More affordable housing, It all costs money but it saves more, No consensus, and, Can it work abroad?”

Dennis Bremner

You actually have to read articles if your intent is to make a point Southern Alberta. Take note that they refer to homeless (Lethbridge has 35-70 max). Finlands Drug Addicted are not considered Homeless. They do not blur those lines like the nonprofits in Canada want to do.
If you want to see the Drug Addiction problem do not search for homelessness in Europe unless you know how that nation defines its addicts. https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/finland-hit-by-a-new-wave-of-drug-use/
We could solve homelessness in Lethbridge in 15 minutes using the definitions used b Finland.
Lastly, as I tell everyone that has not been to Europe there is a rather unique Language Barrier that prevents the addicted from moving around Europe. If you are a 20 year old addict the odds of you speaking Finnish when born in Germany are slim. So migration of addicts does not occur as easily as it does in Canada.
When a city in Canada says “We have solved the Homeless Problem” like Medicine Hat did, its a Beacon to the surrounding areas, its also a Beacon to surrounding Do-Gooders, who then suggest that if you go to Medicine Hat you likely will get a home!
What happened? Exactly what I predicted. Once the Beacon is launched an influx of new “Homeless” would occur, it took less then 3 months and suddenly Medicine Hat had 150 new homeless. Shortly after, the numbers of Homeless started to drop in Medicine Hat, as they shuttled more and more of them to Lethbridge. And, also just as suddenly Lethbridge shot up to 400 a number that we had not seen before. Is anyone doing anything about it? Nope! Its the atypical answer, anyone can live where they want in Canada? Well I suppose if you pay someone to move out of your city and put them on a free bus to another city that’s acceptable? I think not!
This was and continues to be, very predictable! I have warned this cities Council, and sent them as much information as possible through the 311 system. They do not even acknowledge receipt because they have decided they know best.
Where do “they” get this knowledge from? Experts who have killed other cities repeating the same error, nonprofits that are conflicted and want the disaster to unfold so they can rescue us or appear to rescue us. Lastly they get their knowledge from people that know nothing about the history of this disease on society and just repeat over and over again the mistakes of all Canadian Cities.
You can see the nonprofits moving in to support the SSIGs single study which was the 19 acres from the railway on Stafford to 5th North. If you drive down 12A, B, C streets in Lethbridge you see more and more assistance services EMBEDING and appearing monthly. So by the time Council finally makes a decision, the decision will have been made for them. “Something else I told the Cultural and Social Standing Policy Committee over 8 months ago during my “allowed” 5 minutes with no questions asked!
They do not want to hear what the right thing is to do. They want to support the non profits who they believe are doing God’s work and feel, much like the nonprofits, that sacrificing the downtown is just a cost of doing God’s work. Unfortunately it is not sacrificing a portion of downtown. We will have lost the entire downtown if this continues!
What I find somewhat amusing is when this evolves as it is, suddenly the Complacent Lethbridge Ratepayers who never offered any support to the “Do No Harm to Anyone Committee” will attempt to stop it in the 11th hour. Tooooooooooo Late!

I have a solution to our problem, it has not been given the time of day because too many nonprofits would lose their cash cow, that is the bottom line or they would be raising money to support my plan!
Why would the nonprofits want to keep the Indigenous children who are addicted away from their parents who are on the Reserve? Is it because they believe converting them to their religion is best? Or is it because they know that if the Addicted (not homeless) are in a facility (housed) with immediate access to their parents and out of town, they lose government funding?
I will let you decide!

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner

I agree that there are too many non-profits involved that are making money off of this crisis and fight to stand status-quo to protect their interests, but disagree on you stance on God. I know of one dedicated Christian organization that has been operating in this city for decades and once operated a shelter, before the current one opened and they have done a lot of great work for this city and helped many, many people.
People stiil die from alchohol! We need more treatment beds for both mental health and addictions! The most successful programs in North America are faith based.
Here is another report to share:
Belief, Behavior, and Belonging: How Faith is Indispensable in Preventing and Recovering from Substance Abuse https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6759672/

– We find that 73% of addiction treatment programs in the USA include a spirituality-based element
– We find that these faith-based volunteer support groups contribute up to $316.6 billion in savings to the US economy every year at no cost to tax payers.
– While negative experiences with religion (e.g., clergy sex abuse and other horrendous examples) have been a contributory factor to substance abuse among some victims, given that more than 84% of scientific studies show that faith is a positive factor in addiction prevention or recovery and a risk in less than 2% of the studies reviewed, we conclude that the value of faith-oriented approaches to substance abuse prevention and recovery is indisputable.
Not doing anything has allowed this to explode, and comments from various non-profits which prevent actions by police only increases the issues. I have heard others state it is time to get back to tough policing of drug use on our streets and I agree that this is needed as well as treatment and/or jail.
When it continues to grow it means we are not making the right decisions.

Last edited 1 year ago by R.U.Serious
Dennis Bremner

You have to understand that there are two sides to a nonprofit, the business side and the assistance side. The business side, like Mustard Seed has garnered $77million in real estate. The assistance side is volunteers who do good work. The volunteers ARE the assistance.
The business operators do very very well many of them earning well above $300-$400,000 a year and some well over $500,000 a year.
It is why there are 1200 mostly faith based assistance organizations within a 4 block radius of DTES Vancouver. How did so many of them form? Certainly not by demand. What happened is a worker who slugged his guts out daily to help the homeless found he/she was near starving to death, while the boss drove home every night to a classy neighborhood with his new Mercedes!
So they quit and formed their own “nonprofit”. Now Vancouver DTES has become totally dis-functional as they fight for their portion of the Government $$ pie. 1200 non profits offering a tiny bit of help is not the same as 3-4 large organizations distributing help.
Seattle is another, they have 1600 nonprofits within a 2 block radius (mail drops only)
What you and all the others have to understand is the “business machine of a nonprofit/church can be as cut throat as a casino owner. The nicely dressed ladies serving you your drink, or the sweet religious lady helping you with a sandwich and a hot coffee in the middle of the winter have nothing to do with the “organization” that is feeding off the poor!


I agree T-W. As stated, I didn’t agree with your comment regarding faith based treatment, since I have followed, as you, many treatment programs across this continent, including Mexico.
I was against Mustard Seed coming to Lethbridge, not because of their Christian applications, but because we have our own local organizations that have been here long before the opioid crisis that have done great work in this city.
We need to stop funding and supporting many of those other organizations such as Sage Clan, which makes comments that were printed in the Herald like:
“That organization, a foreign organization, they’re not from Lethbridge,” he said referring to Alpha House.“It’s just like the white man is a foreign people that came here and now they’ve pulled the same thing. The first thing I told the City was ‘you don’t bring a Calgary organization, bring their system and run it here.
This is not Calgary. This is Lethbridge. This is unique,” said Brave Rock.
“No study was done as to the influence of those Indians all across that river. They have a great influence, everything, even monetarily. Lethbridge would not have the income if it wasn’t for the Blood Tribe,” said Brave Rock.
There are other organizations that need to be defunded. The same article states ‘Sage Clan’ is a Calgary based organization. Does Mark Brave Rock admit that?
There are many others will little training attempting to jump on the non-profit band wagon so they can get a paycheck from it. We need trained professionals who understand how to deal with these issues.
Right now we are seeing ‘mission creep’ which is leading to the same high costs as where you mention in Vancouver.


OK – I’ll bite. On the one hand you suggest City Hall should look at how other municipalities have dealt with this problem and then learn from their successes. On the other hand the only example is Vancouver which you imply hasn’t really worked. Is that all you’ve got?
You have to give The Herald credit for letting people voice their opinions no matter how poorly informed or thought through. Add this letter to the growing pile of such noise.

Say What . . .

Some good points. Some factors that make us different from other communities such as we live next to the biggest reserve in Canada and have 3 others close that contribute to the issues on our streets.
Not all are true addicts, just like all are not truely homeless. Many have homes but will not abide by rules and many will not work, but want to be wild and live free. We are killing them with compassion by supplying them with food, taken right to them on the streets by several different groups, we give them free clothes, and we allow them do write graffiti on our buildings with no deterrents, because law enforcement will not write them the $300 ticket that a recent bylaw passed by council this spring would allow, because they are homeless or so they say.
Every municipality has a choice of what happens in their community, but many do not have the leadership to act.
Talking to other communities always helps so you can compare notes, but each community has unique factors. Action is gets results!

Last edited 1 year ago by Say What . . .