Home / World / English News / David Eby promises swift and decisive action on homelessness as B.C. premier

David Eby promises swift and decisive action on homelessness as B.C. premier

David Eby, the person most likely to succeed John Horgan as B.C.’s premier, says that under his leadership the province would do what is needed to tackle the ongoing homelessness crisis that cities like Vancouver are facing.

Eby said in places like Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside there has been a lack of co-ordination between the province and the city.

“I think it’s the province that needs to step up and take responsibility and accountability for the neighbourhood,” he said. “I think we are now beyond the point where the city can respond, and I think it’s going to be up to the province.”

The comments from one of the province’s most vocal housing advocates come as officials continue to remove tents and structures from the sidewalk of one of the city’s busiest streets in its poorest neighbourhood.

In July, Vancouver’s fire department ordered the immediate removal of tents and structures along East Hastings over safety concerns in the Downtown Eastside.

The dismantling of yet another tent encampment in the city has resulted in violence between police and residents and confusion over where displaced people are to go.

Eby has long worked on the issue of homelessness as a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society and as the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) before entering politics.

He had been B.C.’s attorney general since he was elected in 2017 in the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey and, for the past year and a half, the minister responsible for housing.

During his time as housing minister, Eby developed a reputation for wading into local city halls over housing projects when he saw them being stalled or stonewalled, sometimes coming into direct conflict with local leaders.

Last month, he relinquished those portfolios when he announced he would seek the leadership of the B.C. NDP after John Horgan announced he would step down this fall after a successor was chosen.

So far, with only one other candidate running against him, Eby looks poised to become the next premier before a general election on or before Oct. 19, 2024.

In a nearly 30-minute interview in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park, once the location of a tent encampment, Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC’s The Early Edition, pressed Eby on the seemingly intractable problem of housing some of the most vulnerable people in the province and the resulting encampments.

“The idea that someone comes in on a cruise ship and steps off and this is what they see of Vancouver, I think all of us are embarrassed by that, to say nothing of people actually living on the streets in these conditions,” he said.

People are pictured on East Hastings in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

‘The province will and should lead’

Eby said he remained steadfast that the problem could be solved, but only with all levels of government, advocates and community organizations working together. He said currently there is a lack of co-ordination, and he would use his experience in the Downtown Eastside to pull people together.

“It’s one of the unique things that I bring to the table in terms of my leadership is some history in the neighbourhood, still some connections in the neighbourhood,” he said.

“It’s going to take some focused effort, and I think the province will and should lead that, and it will if I’m successful in my bid.”

Eby was critical of the City of Vancouver, which he said often has complicated approval processes in place to build temporary modular or permanent housing that can be quickly constructed.

“We need that sense of urgency from the city, and I think that we can get it, but I think that the province is going to have to convene it.”

A tent encampment at Vancouver’s CRAB Park pictured in April 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

This week, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said, “cities on their own can’t do this,” about housing people displaced from the East Hastings encampment and asked for more provincial and federal help.

Eby said that as premier he will move to expedite the replacement of single room occupancy (SRO) housing in Vancouver, much of which is in poor condition and a factor in people deciding to live in encampments rather than in SROs.

The city says in a report, that as of 2019, there were 6,680 open SRO rooms across 157 SRO buildings.

Eby also committed to doing more as premier to implement health supports for people suffering from illness, both mental and physical, which can be a barrier to being appropriately housed.

“There are a lot of people on the street who are profoundly ill and having appropriate responses whether it’s out-patient services or something where they need to spend some time in hospital or in a care facility or a supportive environment where they can actually have a chance, instead of just letting them overdose repeatedly and then dying on the street.”

News Source link

Check Also

Two Manitoba outfitters lose licences in conservation probe sparked by black bear hunting – Winnipeg

Descrease article font size Increase article font size Two Manitoba businesses have had their outfitting …