Vancouver reaches highest number of homeless people since they started keeping track
There are 2,223 homeless people on the streets of Vancouver according to the city’s own survey.
According to CTV News, it’s the highest number ever recorded since the city began to keep track in 2002.
After causing many delays, protestors have left the Swartz Bay ferry terminal, located north of Victoria, B.C. They were blocking the terminal and denying people access on Monday.
The protestors claim to be working alongside Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in attempting to cancel a liquified natural gas pipeline being implemented by Coastal GasLink. The pipeline is being built in north central B.C.
NEWS 1130 reported that the group was protesting on Highway 17 and were even in the water in kayaks too.
An online statement released by the protestors says, “In response to the recent call from the Wet’suwet’en for solidarity actions that ‘shut down rail lines, ports, and industrial infrastructure’ this action has targeted BC Ferries because of the corporation’s deepening integration with the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) industry,”
“BC Ferries has proposed ‘upgrades’ to two of its ferries that will make them reliant on the very product that Coastal GasLink (CGL) threatens to bring through Wet’suwet’en territory.”
Dozens of protestors took part in the event and used their banners to cover signs at the terminal.
Since being proposed, the pipeline has even caused violent encounters between protestors and police.
After coming to agreements with 20 First Nation councils, Coastal GasLink is attempting to build the pipeline from northeastern B.C. all the way to Kitimat, B.C. The pipeline will reportedly stretch 670 kilometers.
According to the hereditary clan chiefs, the project can not continue without their permission.
On Monday, Deborah Marshall from BC Ferries noted, “We fully respect the rights of individuals to protest decisions that they don’t agree with, but our concern is allowing our customers to have safe and unimpeded access to our terminal.”
“At our Swartz Bay terminal right now, the lanes are blocked. The lanes leading into the terminal, so no customers are able to access the terminal at this point, so it’s affecting all of our routes sailing in and out of Swartz Bay right now.”
A wealthy businessman who was well-connected to Asian organized crime was permitted to buy a stake in a British Columbian Lottery Group casino, according to Global News.
The government official who allowed the transaction to occur was later hired by the casino in question.
Asian organized crime has been reported to have dipped their tentacles into British Columbian casinos. This was made starkly apparent through a 2009 RCMP report. Asian women with gambling debts, for instance, were being trafficked to B.C. and forced into sex work.
As a result of this, the RCMP report robustly concluded that the police should be targeting B.C. casinos as a way of combatting money laundering.
Despite this, the British Columbian government decided to defund and then disband the illegal gaming unit, provoking outcry amongst those who wanted to see a more transparent gambling industry in the province.
Jon Dziadyk is the Ward 3 Councillor for Edmonton.
No one moves to Edmonton for the weather, and we used to have record unemployment. We now have a substantial homeless population and that tells me that many currently experiencing extreme hardship were once bundled up, cozy, in an Edmonton home. Times have changed. Likely, in years past, they were productive members of society: sleeping in their own bed and working in the morning. Various government policies, economic cycles, bad luck, bad choices, addictions and/or mental illness may have led to their downfall. A government needs to be compassionate and utilize common sense: enter the municipal response to those shivering on the streets during our latest deep freeze. I am disappointed in what is happening in light of what could happen. The goal of any homelessness policy should be to rehabilitate with dignity. The solutions should be practical, modern, and not complicated.
Last year I successfully advocated that our LRT stations should be open during our coldest nights to much opposition. This year, despite my efforts, as a City Councillor, our homeless are out of luck.
Picture this: a public, heated, safe building sitting empty during a dark winter night has its doorway occupied by a homeless person aiming to capture a scrap of heat escaping from the mailslot. That is essentially what can be seen outside of a LRT station in Edmonton, and across the country. Our train stations close nightly and yet they are heated and designed to accommodate large volumes of people.
There are many problems with this picture, but there are two which I would like to address. The first is that there is nothing stopping this unused public space from being open overnight to allow our most vulnerable to sleep with a shed of dignity. The second problem is that—here in Edmonton—our dedicated homeless shelters are actually not full, even during the most severe winter storms. Why then are there homeless people in the doorways? What are our shelters doing wrong? If we cannot meet their basic needs, how will we rehabilitate them into society at large?
Let’s face it, governments everywhere fail at being efficient and adaptive. If a private entity had empty space that could be used for something else, you bet their bottom dollar they would find a use for it. Our LRT stations are closed for several hours every night and are not being used for what could be a lifesaving service. Sleeping outside in our winter city can be fatal at 5 below, let alone in negative 30 temperatures.
In 2009, Edmonton put forward a plan to end homelessness. Given that we are having this conversation regarding our homeless population a decade on, we have not succeeded. At what point do we reevaluate our efforts? We can alleviate the suffering of those experiencing homelessness by opening our warm public doors for a few hours until a permanent and sensitive solution is found.
I view the opening of our unused LRT stations during the night as a Band-Aid for the deeper problem. The real issue is why are our services for the most vulnerable being left largely unused? Are the services not being utilized because those who need them are not aware they exist? Can they not access them? Is the lack of co-ed sleeping quarters deterring them? In this woke era of safe injection site acceptance, are the conduct policies at shelters too strict? We need answers to these questions to find out why we have exterior doorways occupied and beds empty. For whatever reason, segments of the homeless population will not go into our homeless shelters. So it’s incumbent upon the city to modernize our services.
In rebuff to the LRT proposal, and in response to concerns raised about our homeless predicament, the City will now be opening a portion of a recreation centre just outside of the downtown core during extreme cold spells. This checks the dignity box but misses the point.
Their opposition to the LRT station use is that transit staff are not trained to deal with the homeless population and, when it was tried before, there were a few fist fights and spills of bodily fluid. I would counter and say that, obviously, transit staff should not be involved and that the referenced problems will occur anywhere this population congregates. The rec center is fancy but analogous to the LRT station except that it is not located where the homeless population actually is. Whatever arguments are used against the train station could be the same ones used against the rec centre idea. I fear that the homeless will not travel to the supposedly well thought out alternative.
As a City Councillor I sometimes fear that we look for complicated solutions versus utilization of the obvious assets. We justify spending more money because we want to congratulate ourselves on the solutions and the process of how we got to those solutions. Something as simple as hiring security to open the LRT gate is just a little too uneventful.
To the readers from the rest of Canada, many of our homeless are former energy workers. The Alberta economy is hurting and meaningful employment is the key to the recovery. Government policies that have hurt our industries have been the start of the problem. Let’s not have local paternalistic government policies perpetuate the problem or it will become a crisis.
A new year has arrived, and people might be looking to make New Year’s resolutions. One New Year’s resolution that is popular is to give more to charity.
People might intend on giving more charity to feel more generous. People might think that they need to send money to fight malaria in Mali or sponsor a Syrian refugee to be charitable, but they do not have to look far if they want to help the less fortunate.
There are more and more people living on the streets in major cities across Canada. Canadians should be looking to solve this problem before they try to solve the world’s problems.
Raising the Roof estimates that 35,000 Canadians experience homelessness on any given night. An estimated 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness each year.
Homeless people need to be humanized because they are regular people who have fallen on tough times.
Consider Blair Wall, a homeless person in Toronto.
Wall used to live in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L. About two years ago, Wall was called by his cousin, telling him that there was a place to stay and a job for him in Toronto.
“I hitchhiked 2,400 kilometres and came to no place to stay and no job,” he said.
He said that it is tough living on the streets. He avoids using the Toronto shelter system.
“It’s absolutely horrible,” he said. “There’s no security for your things. There’s a lot of drugs within the shelter system, and people are stealing all of the time.”
Helping homeless people will allow them to feel less marginalized. People end up homeless because of poverty, unemployment, family violence, or other, various reasons. People with mental illnesses are disproportionately affected by homelessness.
Consider Jason Serroul, a former homeless person in Toronto.
Serroul has been living on and off the streets for 17 years because of mental illness.
“I can actually count the number of times on both hands how many times I’ve slept inside and watched TV in 10 years,” said Serroul.
He recently found an apartment to stay in.
“I think that any place should try to do what they can to help the homeless,” he said. “Every single person in that situation, needing to utilize the facilities of the community and the government, should be able to.”
Rather than walk past homeless people, Canadians should acknowledge their presence. Canadians should stop and give homeless people a few coins or any extra food they might have.
If Canadians want to be more generous than that, they can donate to charities who are committed to helping homeless people or volunteer their time at a soup kitchen.
Canadians could go further by writing letters to politicians about this issue. They can ask politicians to commit to improving conditions in homeless shelters or to divert some of the more than $6 billion spent on foreign aid to ending homelessness in Canada.
Charity begins at home. Canadians should look at what is wrong with their countrymen and countrywoman and ask themselves what they can do to help.