Tent camp grows rapidly on Pandora Avenue in Victoria after drop-in centres closed due to COVID-19, March 26, 2020. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Stop passing the buck on tent camps, Horgan tells municipalities

Victoria, other cities advised to enforce their own bylaws

Local governments need to do their part to deal with tent camps and provide housing alternatives for people living outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier John Horgan says.

Horgan was asked about the ongoing conflict between campers and residents around Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, which along with Vancouver has received most of the media attention and money to buy hotels with food and other services for transients. Victoria council has declined to enforce its anti-camping bylaw due to COVID-19, which Horgan said is a mistake, and Mayor Lisa Helps has demanded the province buy more hotels after millions have already been spent to do that in the two cities.

“I appeal to the city of Victoria to step up with some genuine ideas, rather than just turning to other orders of government,” Horgan told reporters at a student housing announcement at the University of Victoria July 27. “There is a bylaw in place that says you can’t camp during the day, you have to fold up your camp in the morning. Victoria has chosen not to enforce that because they believe that in a pandemic, that would be ill-advised. I disagree with that, but that’s not my responsibility. The city is responsible for their bylaws and they can and should manage them.”

He said there are ongoing discussions with the federal government on pressing housing issues, and there are other places that need help.

“It’s not just Victoria and Vancouver where there are challenges with homelessness – Nanaimo, Smithers, Kamloops, Kelowna, right across the province,” Horgan said. “It’s in rural British Columbia as well, and we all have to work together as a community to find these solutions. And that means working to accelerate zoning issues in municipalities so we can build modular housing and not-for-profit housing, and make sure that we’re putting wraparound services with those units, so that that people who have mental health and addiction challenges can get the help that they need.”

RELATED: Province buys hotels, orders city camps shut down

RELATED: Petition demands Victoria ‘save Beacon Hill Park’

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson noted recently that urban tent camps often have a protest function where people who are already housed come out to demand more housing.

Another protest has derailed the province’s move to allow temporary hospital detention of young people treated for street drug overdoses for up to a week. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy confirmed July 27 that legislation to allow it has been withdrawn, as the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs were staging a Vancouver news conference to denounce it.

“What we’ve been proposing is based on a pilot at B.C. Children’s Hospital and is very different than what the opposition has talked about, or what exists in places like Alberta,” Darcy said in a statement.

The ministry worked with the First Nations Health Council, First Nations Health Authority, Métis Nation B.C., First Nations Health Directors Association and the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society to develop the amendments.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturehomeless housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health warning of spike in overdoses in Nanaimo area

Substance users advised to visit overdose prevention site on Wesley Street in Nanaimo

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 5

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Reuse Rendezvous invites Nanaimo residents to get rid of items that others might want

Annual city-wide swap meet happens Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 8-9

MS Society looks for Nanaimo volunteers to offer peer support

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada asks for help with its one-to-one support program

Do-over vote has similar result, 280-unit development in Lantzville going to public hearing

Mayor’s motion to rescind Clark/Medd application’s second reading fails 3-2

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Stock the Lockers drive for vulnerable students in Nanaimo begins

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation exec says students need support leading up to fall semester

Peace ceremony in Nanaimo will be a little different in a pandemic

Hiroshima Day will be observed during the afternoon Aug. 6 at Maffeo Sutton Park

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

Most Read