Province anticipates housing residents of Vancouver homeless camp by end of April
Published Saturday, January 16, 2021 7:19PM PST
A message is written on a door outside a tent at a homeless encampment at Strathcona Park, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
VANCOUVER -- The B.C. government says it expects to have housing available for residents of the tent city in Vancouver's Strathcona Park by roughly the end of April, paving the way for the closure of the encampment at that time.
A statement from the office of Attorney General David Eby, who is also the minister responsible for housing in B.C., indicates that BC Housing and the City of Vancouver are working to secure housing for everyone currently living in the park.
"It is the goal of both the city and the province to move anyone experiencing homelessness in Vancouver into long-term, sustainable housing to break the cycle of homelessness," the statement reads, in part. "We will be making accommodation options available over the coming months with the joint goal of opening enough spaces for people at the encampment by the end of April."
The ministry did not provide details on how or where the accommodations would be provided, nor how many of them would be permanent. It did say that 450 additional supportive homes are "on the way" and 100 are expected to open this spring.
The province says it has opened more than 1,000 new supportive homes in Vancouver since 2017.
The Strathcona Residents Association, which has been calling for an end to the homeless camp, issued a statement expressing "relief" that the government now has a timeline for when homeless campers will be housed.
The association also criticized the government for taking so long to act.
"In our view, the crisis over the past eight months has taken far too long to be addressed in a meaningful way," its statement reads. "The wet, squalid and unsafe conditions in the encampment have increasingly become more pronounced. The multiple deaths, assaults, thefts, and unsafe conditions for both campers and the broader Strathcona community are unacceptable and we expect more from our leaders in addressing these complex and tough issues."
Beginning this weekend, the province, the city and the Vancouver Park Board are collaborating to provide a warming tent, washroom and shower facilities for residents of Strathcona Park.
"These facilities will be operated by Atira Women’s Resource Society and a team of peers, and will play an essential role in keeping people living in the park safe until they can move into indoor shelter space," the ministry said in its statement.