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

Give Via Rail passengers priority, says Councillor Randhawa

Safe, consistent, transportation needed for Prince Rupert to Prince George after Greyhound leaves

Eclectic art collection on display at Museum of Northern B.C.

Douglas Moore’s extensive art collection makes its third appearance in the Prince Rupert museum

Records fall at northwest B.C. track and field zones

Charles Hays hosted the 2018 northwest zones competition in Prince Rupret on May 18

Legion Snooker League honours member

A plaque will be mounted on one of the tables in memory of Clyde Dudoward

Charles Hays drama students in Fine Arts Revue

Prince Rupert high school students draw laughs in 13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview

Eclectic art collection on display at Museum of Northern B.C.

Douglas Moore’s extensive art collection makes its third appearance in the Prince Rupert museum

Transportation Minister disappointed by BC Ferries plan to remove fuel rebates

Claire Trevena says she is ‘extremely disappointed’ by a plan by BC Ferries to remove fuel rebates

B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

Lawsuit is the latest move in the two provinces’ ongoing feud over the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Liberal government introduces measures to update Canada’s family laws

Justice officials say there have not been substantial updates to federal family laws in 20 years

B.C. mom threatens legal action against sunscreen company

Caleb Jordan, 6, was covered in blisters 20 minutes after using Banana Boat sunscreen

BC Games Society president to step down

Kelly Mann says it’s time for a change after 26 years with the society

B.C. politicians framed by anonymous sticky-note doodler

Insider has been posting caricatures from the B.C. legislature to social media

27 years since initial police probe, polygamist leader to be sentenced in June

Prosecutor recommend up to 6 months jail, defence asks for conditional or absolute discharge

Governments kick in cash for B.C. farmers, food processors

Ottawa, Victoria contribute $14 million over five years to help develop new products, processes

Most Read