The recently released report on police staffing says something that many of us have suspected for a long time. The consulting firm that wrote the report is an independent observer so they cannot be accused of bias. The report clearly states that Nelson has created a self-perpetuating social services industry so generous it is attracting clients from outside the Nelson area.
Who are these people moving here to take advantage of our generosity? Panhandlers, street people, mentally ill, addicted and the homeless come to Nelson to use the social services our taxes support. The more who move here, the more our social services industry expands to fill the demand created by our generosity. In the long term this is not sustainable because the supply of people from other areas who want these services will eventually overwhelm us.
I know this newspaper will receive letters that disagree, but are these letters going to be written objectively or by those who hope to benefit from grants that pay them to help their clients? Anyone who is employed or involved with the social services industry has a pre-existing bias and will personally benefit if we, as a city, continue down the unsustainable path we have been following. Social workers and faith-based organizations quite rightly represent what they see as the best interest of their clients. These are not necessarily in the best interest of our city as a whole.
It is time to step back and assess our approach to the people who arrive in Nelson without any prospect or intention of finding a job. They come here in the expectation that we will look after them. Like most Nelsonites, I fully support helping people in need but the facts show the increasing number of transient panhandlers and homeless specifically coming here to latch onto our social services will eventually overwhelm those services. We must not encourage the trend to continue.
The only way to prevent our social services system from eventually breaking down entirely is to help nelson and area residents first, and to encourage new arrivals to either work and contribute to the community or to go back where they came from.
Will Evans, Nelson