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Why Parliament Should Be Turned Into a Homeless Shelter

Everyone who takes public transit in Edmonton is used to seeing homeless people sleeping on the bus, camping out in train stations, smoking, injecting drugs, yelling incoherently, and asking passengers for money. The same scenes play out in every major city across Canada, from Vancouver to Halifax.

In Edmonton, the number of homeless people doubled during the pandemic. The number of amputations for frostbite also doubled. People obviously don't live in train stations for fun. They have nowhere else to go.

The days of blaming people for their own lack of housing are over. Between high housing prices, inflation, years of covid restrictions, and unemployment, it's no wonder so many Canadians have become homeless.

The City of Edmonton tolerates (and sometimes endorses) the use of downtown stations as informal homeless shelters. City councilors and politicians of all stripes are okay with people living, sleeping, and freezing in transit facilities. Why? Because politicians don't take transit. Driving and flying in style and comfort, politicians don't have to come face to face with the extreme poverty in their own hometowns.

If we want all levels of government to address homelessness, we should force politicians to meet homeless people face to face. At City Hall, the provincial Legislature, and even Parliament.

The Alberta Legislature grounds are beautiful. The trees and bushes offer shelter from the wind. The overhang at the front steps offers shelter from the snow and rain. It's conveniently located downtown and there's a great view of the river valley.

Parliament Hill in Ottawa is also a beautiful location. However, there isn't much shelter from the elements, so we may have to let people live inside. There are plenty of nooks and crannies in the hallways for people to sleep. If we need more space, there's a big room with a red carpet traditionally used as a retirement home for wealthy and well connected Canadians. That room could be repurposed and most Canadians wouldn't notice.

Canada's cost of living crisis has been a big issue for years, especially in major cities. The crisis will continue until politicians have to maze their way through thousands of makeshift tents to reach their offices.