Yes, there are street youth from Saanich.
And no, it’s not a problem that a newly commissioned Saanich LGBTQ committee can solve on its own.
But an LGBTQ committee can provide genuine solutions and understanding for issues that are otherwise going unheard, said Eko Goldberg.
Goldberg said he is one half of a couple who’ve experienced words of hate and verbal assault from outside the walls of their Saanich home.
Goldberg was one of about a dozen to speak in support of Coun. Colin Plant’s motion to create the new LGBTQ committee during the public input portion of Monday’s Saanich council meeting. It’s actually a subcommittee that will work with the Healthy Saanich advisory committee. Council voted unanimously in favour of forming the committee.
“Some of the councillors who supported it mentioned [equal] access to recreational facilities and I want to say that’s [important but] a very small part,” Goldberg said.
“Poverty, unemployment and violence against our communities are much bigger issues. Municipal or regional politicians will say those aren’t solvable, but they are.”
Plant said he was approached by several different residents following his election to council last year, all of them wanting to make Saanich more inclusive.
“After meeting with these residents I started to see the need for Saanich to receive some input as to how to make life in Saanich more inclusive of those in the LGBTQ communities,” Plant said.
Goldberg didn’t grow up here but has seen Saanich youth experience the same suffering from violence and discrimination that led him to a period of homelessness.
“We have had street youth who are from Saanich,” said Goldberg.
He also referenced the Regional Housing First Strategy, which prompted the CRD to work towards developing and implementing a plan for new housing in the region by 2018.
“Municipalities in the CRD should work together instead of saying it’s the province’s responsibility. Like the derelict boat in the Gorge, let’s do what we can to act.”
Alexa Robin, also from Saanich, said she hopes the Saanich LGBTQ committee can eventually support education and information about LGBTQ in the school system.
“We have to start with what people are learning growing up,” Robin said. “That’s such a root for all this stuff, homelessness, poverty and gender-based violence. There’s a reason so many of us are on the street, there’s a reason so many of us are affected by this, because people are taught that we’re not equal.”