The Warm Zone has been saved for another year, thanks to funding from the provincial government.
Now it’s time for Abbotsford city hall to get behind the facility.
It is impressive how the work being done by coordinator Michele Giordano and her staff gets the unqualified support of everyone who is familiar with the Warm Zone, and the services it provides for “street engaged” women.
The fact that it has the endorsement of the Abbotsford Police Department – the downtown bike squad members in particular – speaks volumes.
Pastor Ward Draper of 5 and 2 Ministries praises their efforts as the epitome of outreach work.
And B.C. Finance Minister Michael de Jong summed it up nicely with, “It saves lives and changes lives.”
That was last Tuesday, as de Jong was announcing $172,000 in funding.
The Warm Zone needs a new location, and a stable source of funding. The province has provided only a one-time grant, with no guarantee of future financial assistance.
If the City of Abbotsford can’t get behind this project because of its controversial harm reduction bylaw, and the fact the Warm Zone offers a needle exchange, it is time that out-of-date bylaw was repealed. It is out of step with the services other municipalities provide to people who are addicted and living on the streets. It has been criticized by health officials.
There are clear and compelling justifications for needle exhanges in terms of health issues, and health care cost savings.
It’s also misguided to think that those who are caught up in a street lifestyle here have come from some other city. Many are Abbotsford people, and if they are indicative of a problem in society, it is also Abbotsford’s problem to wrestle with.
Part of a comprehensive, modern program is stable funding for the Warm Zone.