Perennial problem largely a question of rights

Summer tempers appear to heating up along with summer temperatures in the Similkameen.

Summer tempers appear to heating up along with summer temperatures in the Similkameen.

Last week’s petition delivered to Keremeos council on Monday night, which largely spoke against transients in the village, elicited a response from a long time transient of the village, who raised some interesting points that don’t often get heard in  the debate that is an annual rite in Keremeos.

It’s interesting to note that some of these annual visitors to the community have been coming here for decades – it appears some of them may know more about what’s going on in the community than many who live here on a permanent basis.

They also feel they have a right to be here, largely based on the premise they contribute to the local economy by working and spending here.

Local politicians and police have come to realize the difficulties of “forcibly removing” people from the village. It’s  a simplistic solution that doesn’t take into account the many other issues that surround the challenge of dealing with an annual transient population in a small community.

We don’t expect the petition or any discussions in its aftermath to find a solution to the issue. Most people familiar with it realize there has been a transient issue in the community for longer than many who currently reside here; that point was brought home, ironically, by a transient, who has, from his point of view at least, been a part of this community longer than many who live here.

We have had several discussions with itinerant labourers in the community. We have found them to be approachable and civil,  and each time have come away with a modified view of who these people are, what they represent, and how they benefit the village. To those in the village who object to the transient’s presence in the community, we would respectfully suggest the road to a more peaceful existence with the transient population might start with an open view to dialogue.

A civilized, honest and open discussion might not change the way things are, but may very well go a long way towards changing the negative reactions to a situation that may not have a solution – not if one respects

the rights of others in a free and open society, at least.