There are now eight tents outside city hall in Prince Rupert, and North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice has released a statement that she’s looking into a solution.
“I’ve spoken with Mayor Brain and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson about moving forward with short term and long-term solutions for stable housing in the Prince Rupert area,” she said in a statement on Wednesday, Nov. 8, hours after tents popped up outside city hall.
Mayor Lee Brain addressed the homeless and affordable housing issue by clarifying that this is a provincial responsibility and that the city is doing as much as it can. He said he plans to bring the matter up in council next week, and to send a letter to the minister.
It has been 12 years since the North Coast had an MLA in government. Jennifer Rice said that her government has already begun to address homelessness in B.C. communities.
“We have done that with significant new funding to create 2,000 new modular housing units for homeless people in communities throughout the province. We know this is only a temporary solution. But it is an essential start in tackling the homeless situation,” Rice said in the press release.
She also mentions that work is being done to develop a Homeless Action Plan and a Comprehensive Housing Strategy.
“Our government is also working hard to tackle poverty. Given that British Columbia is the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction strategy, the New Democrat government recently announced an Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction,” she said.
Rice pointed out that since the new government took office more than 100 days ago there have been promises of $208 million to construct more than 1,700 affordable housing units and $291 million for the construction of 2,000 modular homes for people who are homeless in communities across the province, starting in Surrey and Smithers, and $170 million over three years for staffing and support services.
Now that millions of provincial money has been announced to address B.C.’s homelessness, Prince Rupert will wait to see when, or if, some of those affordable housing units will trickle into the municipality.