City Perspective: ‘We Need To Know More’ About Our Homeless Population

A view out the windows of the bus. Nearby is a blur of traffic. Above there are the distant shapes of high rise buildings
This scene was created by in accordance with the use restrictions of a Creative ML OpenRAIL-M license
Conversation heard on a bus approaching an unfamiliar city. "What more will they need to know about me, other than I'm hungry and need a home?"

Here’s ‘more about the homeless population’ of Kamloops British Columbia, as requested by its self-styled Armchair Mayor (a former city mayor and newspaper editor).

In response:

“homeless people who live in and around Kamloops do not have homes of their own. At times, they may well be close to starvation. Some, but not all, need medical or other health attention. A few need urgent care.”

That should be enough of ‘more’ to stop dawdling and move into action.

Do ‘we’ need to know anything else? Let the ‘we’ stand for the population of any city in North America who may be, and often are, interested in pursuing the Armchair Mayor’s apparent need to know more about the community’s homeless population.

This writer in his youth travelled in Europe. He once revealed in a dutiful letter home that he had hitchhiked to Bruges, Belgium, and spent the night there during some festival or other. His father explained that he should have revealed himself to those in charge of the festival as the son of the man in command of the troops that had liberated Bruges, as the Canadian Army drove the Nazis out of the Low Countries in western Europe.

Did the good burghers of Bruges really need to know that?

Or that this writer’s great, great, great great, etc. grandfather’s brother was a Canadian Father of Confederation? Talk about a pedigree! Still, does anybody need to know that either?

Alternately, this writer once owned a house in Hamilton, Ontario, and the original deed to the property enjoined any purchaser from selling the house to any of three specific European nationalities. Should this writer reveal that he is a descendant of one of those despised and barred-from-ownership nationalities? Or perhaps that he is definitely not one, as the case may be, as the spirit takes him? It is a doubtful ‘need to know more’ if ever there was one.

Examining this local need to know about the homeless population in more detail is frequently associated with what is an ugly reality or possibly a myth. Homeless people have been bussed into Kamloops as a kind of dumping ground. It happens because Kamloops (or any other community, as this same narrative pops up in many communities1) has been chosen because of the highest standards of care afforded by the city of Kamloops towards its homeless.

Often, the ‘knowing more’ question is asked in city council by someone convinced that homelessness is a prank played upon the city by some nasty neighbouring community, instead of the housing crisis being suffered everywhere around the world.

In this bussing context, the principal need to know about these real, or possibly phantom, starving mass arrivals without homes is this: where did they just come from?

Hey, it could be Vancouver, BC, no doubt belaboured by homeless people bussed in from somewhere else. They have maybe outbussed a bunch to Edmonton, which rounds up a gaggle of the recently inbussed and outbusses them to Kamloops. Unless of course they’re just local Kamloops folks fallen in hard times. Do we really need to know ANY of this?

How might such knowledge be utilized? By kidnapping a random bunch of currently local, currently homeless folk and sending them . . . where to exactly? And on what grounds? To date, we haven’t heard of a single city on the continent that has the right to bar citizens from any other corner of their nation.

So, to sum up ‘knowing more:’ where does it get Kamloops, Mr. Armchair Mayor? Will this meaningless study of ‘more’ help prevent starvation and death from disease or cold from overtaking the city’s homeless? What is needed is action. Oh yes, if you must mutter ‘unfair’ under your breath, demand that the feds make the cost burden fair to all communities — they are the only ones capable of fighting and winning this homeless war on a national basis.

Read about the foundation of Kamloops’ supposed need here, as interpreted by Mel Rothenburger, at CFJC today: ROTHENBURGER: We need to know more about our homeless population


  1. Try: Heading North To Fort St. John, Homeless, Penniless And Bussed?