Bureaucracy gone mad
A local, therapeutic farm for the homeless, is currently providing a place for those with addictions and mental illness, the chance to get their lives back.
My wife and I have been volunteers on this farm for the past four years. The participants work and live on the farm. There are no drugs or alcohol allowed on the farm. People can leave the program whenever they want, but there are several incentives to stay. One does not need money to attend the program and people can stay as long as they like. We have watched many young men and women go through a complete physical and mental change as they learn new skills and gain confidence. They grow their own food on the farm and also sell what's left in their little farmers market. It performs absolute miracles and changes peoples lives for the good.
Here is the problem. The government is doing everything it can do to shut the farm down. Why? Because it is farmland and apparently farmland is not zoned for healing people at the same time it is growing crops. It doesn't matter that the farm is growing more organic food for humans than ever before. If the farm simply grew hay for prize horses, then the government would be quite happy. That is considered good use of farmland. But this farm is guilty of growing an amazing amount of organic crops from it's fields and from it's greenhouses.... and at the same time….. it helps people get their lives back together. Here is one simple example of the continual harassment I've witnessed. The 175 acre farm built a couple of outdoor, composting toilets, so that the participants could go to a more convenient washroom while they were working in the field. One day, three government officials came by to inspect the new outdoor toilets. When one of the bureaucrats was informed that a family member had just died in a tragic accident, and told that this might not a good time, he said, "That's none of my business, I'm here to inspect the composting toilets". They then insisted that one foot of the "small" composting toilet would have to be chopped off, because the square footage was one foot too big on the one hundred and seventy five acre farm. I could give dozens and dozens of examples which are equally insensitive and ignorant and used simply as an excuse to try and shut the farm down. In the meantime, I read every day about people dying on the street at the same time I see this farm announcing that it could house a hundred people or more and is being refused the opportunity to do just that.
This is bureaucracy gone mad and I don't see how governments are ever going to fix the housing or mental health problem unless it can first cut bureaucracy and think outside the box.
Consultation has concluded
Thank you to everyone who sent in their stories and feedback to help reduce and prevent homelessness in Canada. In the coming months, the Government of Canada will release a report based on what was heard during the engagement process.