Squatting On My Civil Rights

Victoria has been rated as one of the most pleasant places to live in Canada from an enivronmental standpoint. On a scale of 1 to 100-- with 1 basically being room temperature every day of the year and 100 being Hell on Earth-- Victoria rates an 11. Because of this, you can walk around outside in January in nay but undershorts and live to tell the tale. This means that Victoria is a great place to be homeless. In Toronto, Montreal and New York, a winter night in the cold is a death sentence. Here, we have campers who trot from one public park to another and set up camp. They believe that we are violating their civil rights by refusing them a campsite on public land. They are selfish and weaselly bastards.
When I was a kid (that was only 30 years ago), downtown's Government Street used to be a hub of scum-- drug addicts, alcoholics, hippies and drifters. Our parks were relatively safe. Nowadays, Victoria has emphasized its tourist trap aspect. Government street is now dotted with Mountietm statue vendors and gelatto stands. The riff-raff have been pushed into the nearby neighbourhoods of Fernwood and Vic-West. They've also set-up camp in local parks.
Yes, they're poor. Yes, Victoria is an expensive place to live. I know, I have to live here to earn a living. Most of the campers are on welfare; many are thieves and drug dealers. There is an overlap-- some are collecting my tax dollars, some are breaking into my car for the remainder. Somehow people have tied up poverty and criminal behavior. If you call a poor thief a thief, you're painted as unsympathic. A crook is a crook is a crook. Les Miserables plucked at the heart strings not because of a man in need of bread: the singing and costuming delivered the pathos. In real life, the piece of trash stealing from you would club you to death to be able to make off with the CDs in your car. The campers are part of that camp.
If they like camping and hate rules, why not move to a campsite in a Provincial park? Riight... the campers don't want to camp there, far away from drugs and handouts. Living in a cheaper place would cut back on some of their income; but they can collect welfare whereever they live.
The Cridge campers have gone to court to fight for their right to camp on public land. Holy: I can't afford a lawyer, but then I have to pay rent and pay for groceries and contribute to society. Are public lands open to the public? Yes. But by squatting, these campers have taken away my rights to be there. Most of the time, you can tread over any part of a public site. When the campers set up shop, they blocked me from that public land. Because they're using part of the camp as a toilet, part of it as a fireplace and part of it as a shooting gallery, I am barred from the camp. I can walk onsite, but only at the risk of physical harm: hepatitis, collera, e-coli, shards of glass, discarded hypodermics, a beating from a mob of riff-raff who would like my money and shoes.
If the campers enjoy going to court, I would like to engage them. If I had their money, I would start a class action suit on behalf of the people of Victoria for their violation of my civil rights. By camping on my public land; and threatening myself and other citizens, they are violating my civil rights. Back when I was a kid, I could run in a park or roll in the autumn leaves. These campers and their riff-raff have taken that from my daughter. There are so many needles in the park next to our place that a roll in the Fall leaves is likely to leave her a pin cushion. These selfish and weaselly bastards have taken that away from her.
On the news, the 30 to 40 Cridge campers are complaining that they're only allowed $325/month to live. Since when did full-time at minimum wage ($8 x 8hrs x 22 day/mo) equal $325? Everywhere I turn, there are signs in windows for Help Wanted: dozens of places that need people. Here's how the Cridge campers can pack up their tents: GET A JOB. There is plenty of work for people without skills. The problem is: they don't want a job because it cuts back on their lifestyle. Some have alcohol, drug and psychological issues, but a lot of people live with those problems.
A friend of mine landed in Victoria about two years ago with a backpack of clothes, $500 in cash and nothing else. He bumped around for a while and found a job that paid about minimum wage, got a place to live and he was off. No skills (well he had skills, but they weren't applicable) and no help. He did it, so it can be done.
Another friend of mine left a professional career and bumped about for a while. He has a history of mental illness. He also has a lot of debt. Rather than give up and pitch a tent, he found a job he could do without angst, maintained his living and managed his pyschological issues. Easy, hard: it was doable and he did it.
I know people out there will decry that I am unfair to the plight of the campers. I don't care about the campers and neither do you. Have you taken in a homeless person? Have you said, "I make $X/mo. and I need $Y/mo. to survive: I am giving the remainder to the poor?" Forget about donating it to a charity to keep your hands clean. Have you walked up to the type of person who would camp at the Cridge and said, "Here's a bunch of money."?
The problem is that society is a bell-curve: 1% of the people have most of the money; 1% of the people have nothing. A lot of people are the working saps. That bottom 1% will always fail to survive. Victoria has enough jobs and arguably enough housing. It's a given that the Cridge campers are failures: could they please go somewhere else to fail? Maybe, could they fail while flipping a burger or stocking a shelf? As it is, they're squatting on my civil rights.


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