Council discusses homeless situation in Prince Rupert

The issue of homelessness in Prince Rupert was once again brought to the forefront during city council's Sept. 14 meeting.

The issue of homelessness in Prince Rupert was once again brought to the forefront during city council’s Sept. 14 meeting, with Coun. Joy Thorkelson saying something needs to be done sooner than later.

“There are about three camps around town with a number of homeless people and we are coming up to winter, so it is becoming cold, wet and miserable … we have, I would say, about 25 homeless people living in these camps right now,” she said.

“The longer people remain homeless, the more issue the city is going to have.”

Thorkelson noted past discussions with BC Housing to build additional affordable housing units have proven ineffective, but said the answer could still rest with the organization.

“I think we should really be pushing BC Housing. I agree with the idea of putting trailers on BC Housing land because people should not have to be homeless while waiting for more affordable housing to be built,” said Thorkelson, with Mayor Lee Brain noting the situation may only get worse.

“Things are getting more expensive and there is a lot of speculation taking place. We need to keep pushing the issue,” he said.

While two speakers at the Committee of the Whole called for a homeless count, Thorkelson noted there may be an easier way to see what is happening with homelessness in the community.

“If we want to do a count once every month or two months to see if it is increasing, the best way would be to look at the soup kitchen numbers. If the numbers are going up then that is an indication that homeless or near-homelessness is going up because people who aren’t homeless are putting their food budget into paying rent,” she said.