Tent camp grows rapidly on Pandora Avenue in Victoria after drop-in centres closed due to COVID-19, March 26, 2020. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Stop passing the buck on tent camps, Horgan tells municipalities

Victoria, other cities advised to enforce their own bylaws

Local governments need to do their part to deal with tent camps and provide housing alternatives for people living outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier John Horgan says.

Horgan was asked about the ongoing conflict between campers and residents around Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, which along with Vancouver has received most of the media attention and money to buy hotels with food and other services for transients. Victoria council has declined to enforce its anti-camping bylaw due to COVID-19, which Horgan said is a mistake, and Mayor Lisa Helps has demanded the province buy more hotels after millions have already been spent to do that in the two cities.

“I appeal to the city of Victoria to step up with some genuine ideas, rather than just turning to other orders of government,” Horgan told reporters at a student housing announcement at the University of Victoria July 27. “There is a bylaw in place that says you can’t camp during the day, you have to fold up your camp in the morning. Victoria has chosen not to enforce that because they believe that in a pandemic, that would be ill-advised. I disagree with that, but that’s not my responsibility. The city is responsible for their bylaws and they can and should manage them.”

He said there are ongoing discussions with the federal government on pressing housing issues, and there are other places that need help.

“It’s not just Victoria and Vancouver where there are challenges with homelessness – Nanaimo, Smithers, Kamloops, Kelowna, right across the province,” Horgan said. “It’s in rural British Columbia as well, and we all have to work together as a community to find these solutions. And that means working to accelerate zoning issues in municipalities so we can build modular housing and not-for-profit housing, and make sure that we’re putting wraparound services with those units, so that that people who have mental health and addiction challenges can get the help that they need.”

RELATED: Province buys hotels, orders city camps shut down

RELATED: Petition demands Victoria ‘save Beacon Hill Park’

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson noted recently that urban tent camps often have a protest function where people who are already housed come out to demand more housing.

Another protest has derailed the province’s move to allow temporary hospital detention of young people treated for street drug overdoses for up to a week. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy confirmed July 27 that legislation to allow it has been withdrawn, as the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs were staging a Vancouver news conference to denounce it.

“What we’ve been proposing is based on a pilot at B.C. Children’s Hospital and is very different than what the opposition has talked about, or what exists in places like Alberta,” Darcy said in a statement.

The ministry worked with the First Nations Health Council, First Nations Health Authority, Métis Nation B.C., First Nations Health Directors Association and the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society to develop the amendments.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturehomeless housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Barriere RCMP are asking, “Do you know who these people are?”

RCMP are hoping someone will recognize the people in these photos who… Continue reading

Barriere RCMP looking for alleged AG Foods shoplifter

RCMP are requesting help in identifying a woman who departed the AG… Continue reading

Valley Voices From The Past: Early policing in the North Thompson Valley

By Nelson Hindle The following is an excerpt from Upper North Thompson… Continue reading

Welcoming the hot weather with a trip to the Splash Pad

The final arrival of scorching temperatures these past few weeks, with Barriere… Continue reading

District of Barriere Utilities Manager reports to council on Barriere wells

District of Barriere Utilities Manager Ian Crosson presented a verbal report during… Continue reading

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Royal B.C. Museum wants B.C.’s COVID-19 nature observations

COVID-19 Collecting For Our Time: ongoing project cataloguing province’s pandemic experience

Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

For every dollar the province spends the federal government will match

Bad behaviour at B.C. restaurants ignites campaign calling for respect

“If you can’t follow the rules, then stay home,” says BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Most Read