COLUMN: Police, health, and housing issues are interconnected

Councillor Michael Dailly: "What has become most clear to me over these past four months is just how everything is interconnected."

Given that April is National Poetry Month I thought it appropriate that I share my favorite poem.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

mevlana jelaluddin rumi – 13th century

You may be familiar with this particular poem because the message it conveys is timeless.

Taking a position that is safe and popular is easy, just as raising my hand to vote on matters before council is the easy part. However finding common ground and agreement on a best course of action takes time. Having different ideas is healthy. Having the opportunity to share opposing views is critical to finding shared solutions.

Doing the research to understand the issues, listening to each other and exploring the short and long term ramifications of each decision is the work we do around the council table. What has become most clear to me over these past four months is just how everything is interconnected.

Some of the most pressing issues council is dealing with include: affordable housing, police services and health care services. These three seemingly separate spheres are absolutely connected. It is obvious to me that police, health and housing services share the same goals, which is to ensure the health and safety of all our citizens.

We have been hearing from the police that their capacity to respond to all the policing needs of the community are being taxed because more and more of their time is being spent responding to calls related to health care. Interior Health is delivering programs to identify the people most at risk and get them the help they need.

Meanwhile we know that not having a secure and safe place to live escalates existing health issues and leads to people making more visits to the hospital and contact with police. Our local non-profit agencies are working to provide affordable places for people to live and advocating for services they require. To the people who work in police services, health services and social services, we thank you for the job you do. You do amazing work especially considering the chronic funding struggles and tight budgets.

How can we help these dedicated professionals do a better job? Every single person who lives in this community can share in the responsibility to keep our city a safe and healthy place to live. Some of the ways that you might do this is to stop and talk to the people on our streets, listen to their stories. Thank a front line service worker. Talk to your neighbours, volunteer, donate or consider creating a secondary suite in your home to help alleviate Nelson’s affordable housing shortage. This working together must extend beyond our front line workers. The energy spent building relationships and collaboration will pay dividends.

How can you get involved? I want to highlight two community initiatives; the first, “Nelson @ its Best” is a project that is engaging as many people as possible in a broad conversation about making Nelson the best place it can be. More information about this can be found at www.bestnelson.org or attend the “Nelson @ its Best” summit to be held May 21st at the Central School Gym.

Another worthwhile program, “Nelson Good Neighbour” offers Community Mediation to help people resolve disputes and build relationships more information about this program can be found at www.NelsonGoodNeighbour.com

Together we can and are making a difference.

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