When we moved to Victoria five years ago, we knew that it was a very popular place to live, considering prime location and mild climate. We also knew, from previous stays, that the Emerald City attracted a lot of transient types who moved out to avoid the cold winters in the east. What we didn’t know but quickly learned was that local government and the province set up a very effective safety net for the homeless. Lots of services to take care of shelter, food and medical needs. When that fails, numerous parks throughout the Greater Victoria region become places to call home.Though we walk through many of them on a daily basis, we have rarely seen any evidence of people living rough. Maybe our problem is that we are sight-blind in our naive assumption that we live in paradise. For those who go looking for these outdoor denizens, apparently they are not hard to find once you go off the main path. There are at least six encampments in local parks five minutes from our condo. As more and more people choose to or are forced to live out on the streets, the various social activists have now mounted a serious campaign to provide social housing for all who live outdoors, regardless of their circumstances. For them, the province should be responsible for providing adequate care for the indigent, mentally ill, and drug addict who have been forced out of home wherever that might be. The senior government has provided a number of temporary facilities to house people in these straits but, that, according to these advocacy groups is not enough. Consequently, in the last four years, there have been major camp cities springing up around Victoria, on public property, to bring attention to this plight. Unfortunately, the results and responses have not been altogether favorable. Crime, disease, misadventure, garbage and property values become the bigger issues in this fight to end homelessness. While we don’t live anywhere too close to these political demonstrations, we can’t help having an opinion on how it should be addressed. What the provincial government is doing right now to alleviate the concerns may not be enough because somebody out there, including the left-wing Victoria City council, is trying to force the issue by allowing tent cities in very public spaces. However, the record shows that it has gone the extra mile in offering temporary shelter leading eventually to more permanent quarters to many of the squatters. The time has come, perhaps, for the Ministries of Housing and Social Services to lay out a strategy or policy as to how it plans to tackle the need for more low-cost social housing that is drug-free and responsibly maintained. That way, the other side knows that tent cities are not a viable option even if they have recent history on its side. For those who need long-term help, supervised housing should be readily available; for the rest, with temporary needs, safe and reliable shelter should be the standard expectation. Living outside should never be a right if it results in damage to natural habitat and surrounding property values.