Today when I arrived at work, I needed to go to London Drugs. As I was leaving, I noticed a man sleeping in the bus stop on the ground. Using his bag for a pillow, he was curled up in the fetal position. I noticed that his skin was bright red like the sun had burned it. There also seemed to be something wrong with one of his hands – it looked like he had lost some fingers and it seemed like the arm was in a cast. I think he was First Nations.
When I left work, I glanced over at the same bus stop to see if one of our clients, who had just left, had gotten on the bus ok. As the buses pulled away, I noticed that the man was still there in the same position. I decided immediately to call 9-1-1. I was very impressed by the speed at which Fire and Rescue arrived. I drove by twice to see what happened and they tried to rouse him and he did not move. I fear that he was dead and that he lay there, on Hastings Street, for who knows how long. I know he was there for at least 5 ½ hours
How did no one notice him there? I would estimate that at least 6 buses per hour went by him on lying on the concrete. Plus all of the people who used that bus stop how is it that he left there. Why didn’t anyone try to see if he was ok or at least call emergency services.
This is the inherent problem with homelessness. Those of us who spend time in Vancouver or other large cities with homeless populations is that we get so used to seeing them that we cease to see them. In my work, I get to know people who are homeless on a personal level. What this has done for me is to attune me to homeless people.
We need to move on social housing. There needs to be federal-provincial plans in place to build more housing. We also need some second-stage supportive housing that will assist people with mental health and/or addiction issues to maintain a home. If we are to move on this issue, we must get the Conservatives and Stephen Harper out of Ottawa. We must start to invest in helping individuals secure housing.
 The bench in the shelter has been gone for a long time.