Dawson Creek hotel fire intensifies homeless problem

Vital low-cost housing was lost when the historic Alaska Hotel in Dawson Creek, B.C., burned down Friday.

Six people who lost their homes have few options.

Fire crews work to put out the blaze as smoke pours from the Alaska Hotel in Dawson Creek, B.C. (YouTube)

A bad homeless problem in Dawson Creek, B.C. has been made worse by a fire that destroyed the landmark Alaska Hotel last Friday, leaving six more people homeless.

While the historic hotel was mostly used by short-term visitors, in recent years one of the floors provided single-residency-occupancy (SRO) style housing.

The six displaced residents got three days of shelter and food through the province's emergency response program. But now that support has ended and it's unclear where the displaced people will go.

The manager of the city's only homeless shelter, Wendy Murray says her shelter and other social service organizations will continue providing food and clothing for those displaced by the fire but she worries about the fast-approaching winter.

Few options for homeless

There are few options for homeless people in Dawson Creek, say Murray

"The last five years it's become a really serious issue with the lack of funding for beds."

Even after creating 100 new rental units this year, the city has barely put a dent in the demand, says Dawson Creek Mayor, Mike Bernier.

"With that zero vacancy, prices are really starting to really skyrocket in the area, so it's making it really difficult for some people to be able to afford to live here still."

The city is now changing bylaws to allow secondary suites and looking at other ways of creating more affordable housing, she added.


With files from the CBC's Marissa Harvey