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

Rampage come from behind to beat Ice Demons

Prince Rupert scored five goals in the third period to secure the win on Jan. 18

City of Prince Rupert still waiting on street light upgrades

Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure said work would be complete in 2018

How sweet it is: Sugar Shack is back for ninth year

On Jan. 23 the popular Francophone festival in Prince Rupert kicks off with a social

City of Prince Rupert to explore funding for Kwinitsa airport ferry

New roll-on, roll-off berth would be called “Rupert’s Landing”

RCMP asks again for public’s assistance to find Binh Tran

Tran was last seen around the 1600 block of Park Avenue on Dec. 11

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Most Read