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

Tour de Rock rolls into the Comox Valley

The tour this year featured alumni riders cycling in their specific geographic area

Online series for Valley residents affected by dementia

An estimated 70,000 British Columbians currently living with some form of dementia

Double rainbow delights following first fall storm

It was a light - or double rainbow to be exact -… Continue reading

Valley’s Father Charles Brandt to receive national lifetime achievement award

Father Charles was instrumental in creating the Oyster River Enhancement Society

Comox Valley Ringette Association requests equal ice time

The Comox Valley Ringette Association has appealed to the regional district for… Continue reading

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Two people extricated from single vehicle crash near Forbidden Plateau Road

BC Air Ambulance has been dispatched to the scene

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Island Corridor Foundation launches survey on importance of Vancouver Island rail

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Most Read