Make no mistake about it, there is a homeless problem here in Prince Rupert and it is only going to get worse as time goes by.
Between increasing rents due to the speculation that come with proposed industrial development and continuing challenges for the fishing industry that could prevent many from reaching the hours needed to qualify for E.I., this winter is going to be a tough one for the most vulnerable in our community.
And should a positive final investment decision come down the pipe any time in the near future, all bets are off when it comes to housing in Prince Rupert.
While it is great to see the City of Prince Rupert being proactive in trying to address the issue of homelessness, the reality is that this particular portfolio is not in their jurisdiction. It is not the responsibility of Prince Rupert city council to create affordable housing and it is not the responsibility of the Prince Rupert city council to find housing solutions.
Those responsibilities fall squarely on the shoulder of the B.C. Government. Unfortunately for those in need in Prince Rupert, the government is failing quite horribly.
While the Prince Rupert council is preparing for what could come with the arrival of the LNG industry here on the North Coast, the provincial government seems to be taking a wait-and-see approach. While that approach is understandable in a lot of cases, the fact of the matter is that waiting to address housing issues until the need increases in a community already struggling with homelessness and poverty will put the government far behind the eight ball and the people of Prince Rupert out on the streets.
If the provincial government wants Prince Rupert and the North Coast to be the epicentre of LNG development in B.C., they need to come to the table with more than platitudes and empty promises of what could be.
You would think they would have learned a lesson from Kitimat, where countless people were renovicted or left on the hook for insane rental prices. But that may be giving them too much credit.