When I was asked if I would enjoy writing a short column for a local online news site, I said “sure” with not much thought about what it would mean.
So I am about eight segments in and I am not certain who actually reads my ramblings except my close circle of friends. (Actually, Gaye’s column is well-read — Editor)
I have been mostly polite and most often used a filter so as not to offend a lot of folks.
Frankly, that is growing tiresome.
So, today, let me ask you —
Have you noticed the growing gap between the “Haves” and the “Have-Nots” in our community?
I bet many will say “What?”
I know that many folks in Osoyoos have worked hard, saved for the day when they could retire someplace nice and do whatever they wanted. I am one of them.
But what about the many others in our community who don’t yet have that nest egg put away? How are they faring in our affluent community?
Let me suggest a couple of answers.
I recently had occasion to hire a man with his own new company to do some work that I could not.
He was efficient, on time, polite and hard working. He earned every penny I paid him.
Imagine my surprise when I learned he was living in his truck.
He shouldn’t be homeless. Yes, he’s going through a rough patch on a personal level, but other then that he is top notch. And yet he is homeless.
I also know of a young mother needing to secure housing and facing the eleventh hour with no where to go. She would be homeless as well except that someone from outside our community came through and she at least now has her own place to live.
She is also not a derelict person without a way to make a living.
These are just two good people who I know about just looking for a place to live. There has to be more. What do they do? Where do they turn?
In Osoyoos, the answer appears to be “somewhere else.”
We have no lodging for summer workers desperately needed to support a billion-dollar tourist industry. And we have no reasonable housing for people of any age who cannot afford the big house up on the hill, down by the lake or up in the vineyards.
That might change with a new subdivision to be built near the highway. But that’s only going to add 28 more houses. How many of those can we expect to be “second homes” purchased by people living in Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton?
What kind of community are we?
There are literally millions of dollars coming in here and we’re only catering to the Haves.
City planners, town leaders, business people — you need to get your heads in the game and start right now — as in yesterday — to make things right.
And we citizens need to come out of the spots we have carved out for ourselves — you know that comfort zone we like so much — and give a little to the effort as well.
If you’re among the secure in Osoyoos, ask yourself this: do you contribute to making a difference in this community?
I am not talking about writing a cheque to the cancer fund or buying cookies and candies from a child at your door.
Not talking about a food donation to get you into a play or concert, either.
I am talking about actually doing something to change the growing distance between the affluent and poor in our community.
How about mentoring? How about making a dinner for someone?
How about converting that income property you lease at exorbitant rates through the summer months and then shutter during the winter into a year-round family rental instead?
There are so many ways we can all help and believe me I am not trying to insult the many good folks who we could help. But there are far more Have-Nots here than we realize.
Why do we want to help them? Mostly because it’s the right thing to do.
But if you want a more objective reason, consider this: if our community continues to make it difficult for those with a little less to live here, they’ll go elsewhere.
They won’t have a choice — and the rest of us remaining here will be the poorer for it.