Tents raised outside city hall to draw attention to homelessness

Mayor Lee Brain asks province to bring affordable modular homes to Prince Rupert

Outside the walls of city hall, a few tents have been raised to draw attention to the need for a homeless shelter in Prince Rupert.

“It’s such a small community and there’s like 30-40 people on the street every night and they’re all sleeping in areas that can be unbearable because your body takes a toll, and you can’t handle it all the time,” said Roger Smith, one of the organizers.

Mayor Lee Brain was present to lend a hand in setting up one of the tents. He met with the leader of the movement, Patrika McEvoy outside.

“They’re setting that up to make a statement, we understand that and I’m certainly not going to be out there being aggressive with anybody or upset, so I wouldn’t say that I’m supportive of them sleeping outside anywhere in a tent. People should be in a home. It should be a basic right,” Brain said.

There were four tents set up by 3:30 p.m. with some people ready to stay the night when temperatures hover around zero degrees. Smith said he is going to stay for as long as it takes and they are hoping they make the numbers grow to gather more support.

Police arrived shortly after the first three tents were set up and asked what the people were doing there and who was in charge. They spoke to a couple people and then left.

“We’re trying to organize a mini tent city in comparison to the one we see in Vancouver to raise awareness about the amount of homelessness that is going on in the City of Prince Rupert,” Smith said.

The mayor has been trying to address the issue, which is outside his political reach. The province is responsible for affordable housing in municipalities. Last year, mayor and council toured city-owned lots and identified six lots that would be suitable for affordable housing.

READ MORE: CITY COUNCIL TACKLES THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING SHORTAGE

The city has been willing to donate the land to the province — at no cost — to build affordable housing units or a shelter. But nothing came to light.

With a new government, Mayor Brain is hoping to see some traction. He has reached out to North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice to discuss solutions.

“One of the things that I’m seeing now as the mayor is that the housing file provincially needs to be re-thought and maybe that it needs to be run by municipalities … We see it on the ground and then every community across B.C. has to call upon the provinces to come and help. It makes it so we can’t respond. Technically it’s not in our jurisdiction,” he said.

Momentum for building a homeless shelter for men fizzled after the North Coast Transition Society didn’t receive funding for phase two of its investigation into developing the much-needed service in the community.

Joe Viscount, one of the supporters of the mini tent city movement, said he also worked on getting a homeless shelter for men with former Captain Gary Shiels at the Salvation Army, but still no result.

“Homelessness in this town has been a problem for as long as I’ve been here, which is 32 years. It’s well hidden. There are people sleeping behind the college. There have been people sleeping down behind the mall forever and people sleeping in parked cars,” Viscount said.

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the mayor plans to bring the issue to council and to reach out once again to the province.

In the letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson, he wrote that he would like to see the modular home project that was launched in Smithers to come to the coast.

READ MORE: HORGAN PROMISES MILLIONS IN HOUSING FUNDING

On Sept. 29, the province announced a program to bring 600 units on City of Vancouver land, and more to Smithers, with plans to build 2,000 modular units over the next two years for other communities in the province.

Hi folks,

Attached is a letter I'm bringing forward to Council on our Tuesday Council agenda to ask for support from…

Posted by Mayor Lee Brain on Wednesday, November 8, 2017



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Donation drop off tonight for B.C. wildfire victims

The Postmen have set up a three-day depot at the Moose Hall in Prince Rupert for disaster relief

Rice on emergency preparedness in wildfire season

Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness talks about B.C.’s state of emergency

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Ice Demons returning to CIHL for 2018-2019 season

Central Interior Hockey League will return with five teams after shrinking last season

Trial set for Prince Rupert RCMP who struck pedestrian in crosswalk

Cpl. Jeff Easingwood is facing charges for driving without due care while on duty

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

The Northern View 2018 Readers Choice

Vote online or at the Prince Rupert office before noon on Sept. 7

Altidore nets 3 as Toronto drubs Whitecaps 5-2

Vancouver falls 7-4 on aggregate in Canadian Championship final

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Chinese medicine practitioner in B.C. facing historical sex assault charges

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

B.C. woman set for trial in Alberta as animal cruelty investigation continues in home province

Karin Adams was discovered with eight dogs in Alberta weeks after having 16 dogs seized in Quesnel

Most Read