British Columbia

Vancouver Island public forum reverses roles by seating mayoral candidates in the audience

Mayoral candidates will have a seat in the audience when advocates and people who have experienced homelessness take the stage Tuesday evening in Victoria at the Solving Homelessness forum.

Public forum will bring together candidates from most Vancouver Island municipalities

Mayoral candidates from across Vancouver Island will attend a public forum about homelessness Tuesday evening in Victoria. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Mayoral candidates will have a seat in the audience when advocates and people who have experienced homelessness take the stage Tuesday evening in Victoria at the Solving Homelessness forum.

The event led by the Our Place Society has invited candidates from across Vancouver Island because homelessness is an issue that spans the entire region, according to Our Place Society executive director Don Evans.

The goal of the unusual formatting is to elevate people who are doing work to help solve the issue of homelessness and educate candidates entering the region's political arena, Evans said.

"Rather than have the different mayors debate, we thought let's present to them and then let them ask questions or be asked from the panel … then we get an idea of what they're willing to do if they become mayor," he told On The Island's Gregor Craigie.

The panel includes Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce; Angela Hudson, executive director of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul of Vancouver Island; Coreen Child, acting director for the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness; and Terry Willis and Shirley Jones, two people with lived experience of homelessness.

Visible homelessness

The series of tent cities that have popped up across the region in recent months has made the issue of homelessness more visible and Evans said all Vancouver Island municipalities need to come together to find solutions.

"For the first time in a long time, we're seeing the provincial and the federal governments pretty aligned when it comes to addressing affordable housing and homelessness in communities. I think the missing link is municipalities," he said.

Evans said other municipalities need to commit more land to housing as Saanich did with 40 units of housing provided for the former residents of the Regina Park tent city.

He says he hopes the event will act as a call to action and a catalyst for change as the public prepares to vote.  

The Solving Homelessness forum takes place Tuesday, Oct 9 at the First Metropolitan United Church in Victoria from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. PST.

With files from On The Island

To hear the full interview listen to media below:

Mayoral candidates will have a seat in the audience while advocates and people who have experienced homelessness take the stage Tuesday evening in Victoria at the Solving Homelessness forum. 6:54

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