MLA for Vancouver-False Creek, Sam Sullivan, has concluded a series of weekly roundtables with the Yaletown community that were assembled to address the dramatic increase in drug use and safety concerns in the neighbourhood. This increase followed a BC Housing decision to move the residents of Oppenheimer Park into downtown Vancouver hotels with no notification, without the necessary wrap-around supports and without a community plan to protect existing residents.
“The government unilaterally made the decision to move hundreds of former Oppenheimer Park residents into Yaletown without any notification or consultation with the neighbourhood’s residents, local business owners or social service agencies and without a safety and needle recovery plan in place,” said Sullivan on Saturday. “As a result, residents have noticed a rise in discarded needles, aggressive behaviour and drug use in the area, leaving the residents feeling ignored by their government and fearing for their safety. Dropping people from one place into another without any significant increases in support is not going to solve any problems, in fact it has just created more.”
The virtual roundtables included more than 100 community members and local business owners, as well as Opposition Critic for Social Development and Poverty Reduction Joan Isaacs and Opposition Critic for Mental Health and Addictions Jane Thornthwaite.
“Many of the concerns shared on the calls were predictable, it is disturbing to hear just how much this transition is impacting the lives of residents,” said Isaacs. “Moving street entrenched and chronic homeless people with addiction issues into a neighbourhood will not solve chronic homelessness and all the related issues that go with it. It simply magnified and transferred the problems to another area. This seems to be the NDP’s plan for homelessness as we’ve seen in Nanaimo or Maple Ridge – round people up and stick them in places with no supports or plan for the surrounding community.”
“There was no consultation with the neighbourhood about this relocation plan before it was put into place,” said Allistair Kent, a Yaletown resident. “What is needed is both consultation and some solid planning to help Granville Street. Moving the problem around is not a solution.”
“The government failed to provide wrap-around supports and the resources needed to care for the vulnerable populations they placed in the neighbourhood, leaving residents to deal with the resulting problems on their own. Nothing has been solved by the NDP’s actions,” said Thornthwaite. “Housing people in downtown hotels is not a long-term solution for anyone. The NDP needs to step up and take action to not only provide meaningful support for vulnerable populations, but to ensure the safety of those who live and work in the area.”