AS I SEE IT:
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS:
The 104 year old Bell Hotel which closed in August 2007 was just one other downtown flophouse, but when it closed it forced 50 people living there to scramble and find other accommodation. Well the years have passed and 5.3 million dollars has flowed under the bridge. This "heritage" minded town has kept the external facade because, after all, frontage is more important than people.
So now the reopening is celebrated with much breaking of arms as various social service bureaucrats pat themselves furiously on the back. You can guess where I'm going with this can't you ? The upgraded premises now have a toilet for every room and, guess what, several social service outlets in the building. Not unexpected and neither is the self congratulation of the bureaucrats as they talk about opening space for 42 new tenants who will be housed whether they have substance abuse problems or not. Oh goody, goody, goody you're so liberal guys !
Let's have a little look at this wonderful gift to Winnipeg's down and out. In case some people are truly mathematically "challenged" it is hard to accept that it isn't obvious that 42 is smaller than 50. That's right. $5.3 million and three years have provided exactly eight fewer places for the poor than there were before. Look at another way. I have little doubt, having grown up without same, that a private indoor toilet is a very good thing , but each of the suites cost about $126,000 each. This in a city that recently spent a goodly amount of tax money hunting down "backyard huts" that otherwise homeless people rented to escape the unwanted "help" of social service bureaucrats. I don't think I'm out of line in saying that there are large numbers of abandoned properties in this town (a lot of which would cost nothing as they are long overdue for expropriation for non-payment of taxes)that could be upgraded far faster at a fraction of the cost. Ah, but palaces for social workers to pretend to work in wouldn't be part of such deals.
There is actually a local initiative that shows a totally different way of doing things. When the infamous Occidental Hotel was morphed into the 'Red Road Lodge' there was indeed government support for putting something else in place of the booze can. Somehow I don't think it was $5.3 million. The RRL also decided to make a go of it by renting out part of the premises to various other businesses and community groups, but no, no social workers (or booze). And the residents were not summarily evicted like they were at the Bell.
Let's look at in yet another way. It's true that this little "initiative" has managed to build accommodation of 42 people at $126,000 per person. Yet it has also managed to "dehouse" eight people at a cost of $664,000 per person. What an advance !
There is, of course, no silver lining for those displaced by this project. Neither is there any sense of accomplishment (whatever the propaganda says) for the taxpayer who has been forced to cough up the millions to do less than was being done before. Who actually benefits from this ? The answer was given in a recent Winnipeg Free Press article where it was stated that "tenants at the Bell must commit to staying in touch with social service agencies". Ah huh ! The big liberal/conservative argument was whether the tenants had to be "clean" before being housed. The answers were predictable. But one thing that both leftists and conservatives agree on in this society is that people have to be controlled.
The Bell Hotel fiasco is a prime example of how NOT to help the poor ie don't throw millions at a problem where there are bureaucracies that stand to benefit financially. And peoplke ask me why I'm an anarchist.