EDITORIAL: Patrols only part of the answer

By hiring professionals, the district is limiting the number of interactions that can occur between the homeless and the business owners.

The hiring of two security guards to patrol the streets of downtown Mission is an intelligent move by the district.

The two guards will work from 6 to 10 a.m. rousing the homeless who are frequently found sleeping in the doorways of businesses on First Avenue and the surrounding area.

By hiring professionals, the district is limiting the number of interactions that can occur between the homeless – who often don’t want to move – and the business owners.

It also shows that council is looking at ways to help improve the downtown shopping experience.

It’s a small step, but a good one.

Mission’s homeless issue will, of course, require much more attention.

Moving the homeless away from store fronts and patrolling the streets to curb over-enthusiastic panhandling may help create a better atmosphere, but merely relocating the homeless does nothing to address this growing social dilemma.

Mission, like every community, has a homeless issue. There is a homeless camp near Hatzic and another close to the West Coast Express, just to name a few.

The problem has not gone unnoticed.

Initiatives have been created to begin addressing homelessness. The Stone Soup program – which engages community resources to help the homeless and addicted population out of their situation – is one example.

Another is the proposed Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team which Fraser Health will be running in Mission and Abbotsford.

The team consists of mental health and  substance abuse professionals as well as members of the Mission RCMP. Council approved the hiring of three new RCMP officers this year, which has made it easier for the local police force to take part in the program.

These are all small steps, but they continue to head in the right direction.

We look forward to seeing what the next steps are, be it by the district, RCMP or community support groups.