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

Capitals centre Kahlil Fontana faces off against Connor Eddy of the Victoria Grizzlies during last Saturday’s game at the Cowichan Arena. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Capitals fall to Victoria Grizzlies

Caps continue to build chemistry in preseason

Chris Istace campaigning in Crofton. (Photo submitted)
Green Party’s Istace apologizes for remark about First Nations gaming grants being a ‘handout’

Candidate determined to do better in thinking and communicating matters of reconciliation

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring says the City Langford has lessons to share on how to deal with social issues. (File photo)
Langford could teach North Cowichan ways to deal with social issues: Siebring

Island city has only eight homeless people, according to last count

Potential designs for 85 Station St. were presented last month to the City of Duncan by the Portland-based architecture and planning firm Communitecture. (Courtesy of Communitecture)
City of Duncan considers applying for grant for Station Street project

New provincial program offers grants of up to $1 million

The bus is free to ride on Oct. 24 so voters can get to the polls to cast their ballots in the provincial election. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Free transit on Election Day in Cowichan

all day and on all regular routes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Skiers line up to start the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race. Photo by Tim Penney
Popular Comox Valley adventure race cancelled for 2021

COVID forces Comox Valley Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race cancellation again

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Most Read