Critics call for more social housing as Vancouver set to dismantle homeless camp
City says over 70 tents erected in July will be dismantled in the coming days
The City of Vancouver says outreach workers are helping about two dozen people move into a shelter after the homeless camp they were staying at was deemed unsafe.
City spokesman Tobin Postma says the camp where up to 70 tents were erected in July will be dismantled over the next few days as residents are transferred to a Salvation Army shelter a few blocks away.
Postma says people will be provided with a mat to sleep on, but anyone who wants to move to another shelter on Nov. 1 would have a bed.
However, several residents of the tent city said they don't feel safe in shelters, and have decided to leave on their own.
Chris moved into the tent city 7 weeks ago. Is also reluctant to go to a shelter "a place like this (tent) is suited to a lot of people" <a href="https://t.co/YfHO2ICzGN">pic.twitter.com/YfHO2ICzGN</a>—@MegsBatchelor
Tazz Cummings, "we need to be somewhere where we can be at least a little bit settled." Says doesn't want to stay in a shelter <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/tentcity?src=hash">#tentcity</a> <a href="https://t.co/FXF6V8CldL">pic.twitter.com/FXF6V8CldL</a>—@MegsBatchelor
A release from the city says that since the camp started last summer, over 65 calls have been made to police, an ambulance has been called out about 20 times, and the fire chief has twice issued orders for campers to remove hazardous material.
Postma says a social housing project slated to be built at the site will provide about 250 units along with an integrated health centre, though construction is not set to begin for four or five years.
Maria Wallstam of the Carnegie Community Action Project says Vancouver urgently needs more housing now because up to 1,000 people are sleeping outside every night in the city's downtown core.
"They say the tent city isn't safe, but who's to blame for that?" she asked.
"Residents here staying here who are homeless, or government for creating a situation where they have to sleep on the street sleep out in the winter?"
With files from Megan Batchelor