As the nights grow colder, the heat on the homeless situation in Prince Rupert is turned way up.
City hall is feeling the heat, but the flames are unlikely to reach the decision makers in Victoria.
If anything, all residents of Prince Rupert can now see the homeless issue every time they walk or drive down Third Avenue West.
Since Wednesday, Nov. 8, the tents continue to occupy space on the lawn outside city hall to protest the lack of affordable housing, and need for a homeless shelter for men.
People who have found themselves sleeping in alleyways, in the shadows of the city, have taken the opportunity to sleep in donated tents, in plain sight, revealing how many have been living under the often tempestuous sky.
Superficially, this is a city problem with the protest staring straight at city hall’s wall. The mayor has found himself once again explaining that BC Housing and the province have the power alone to bring a housing solution for those less fortunate.
In a letter, Mayor Lee Brain blames speculation around the LNG industry, and growth of the port to why there are few rentals left under $900/month. In the North Coast MLA’s response to the tent city, Jennifer Rice blames the previous government. “Sixteen years of BC Liberal neglect has contributed to the housing crisis in Prince Rupert,” she wrote.
But enough blame. Industry has also brought more money to the region. Stop glaring back at previous governments and move forward.
We now have an MLA in government who lives in this city and who is also the parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness. She may not be the housing minister, but she has enough clout to carry the Prince Rupert banner to Victoria and ask for what her most vulnerable constituents are calling for.
On Nov. 10, Rice visited Rupert’s mini-tent city and wrote on her Facebook page: “I will do everything in my power to find better support for homeless people in Prince Rupert.”
With all her power, she could start with providing the most basic of options in this city, a homeless shelter.