VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Green Party of Vancouver is calling on all levels of government, community organizations, and city departments to work together peacefully, collaboratively, and compassionately to address the health, housing, and safety crises that have manifested on Hastings Street.
“We understand that tensions and emotions are high but we need to be focusing on tangible solutions rather than polarizing rhetoric,” said Green Councillor Michael Wiebe. “People's health, housing, and safety are at risk — we all need to be working together to guarantee the human right to dignified housing.”
“The issues that persist on the Downtown Eastside are a result of successive provincial and federal governments' inadequate policies to address the affordability, housing, and poisoned drug crises and the impacts of colonial dispossession,” said Stephanie Smith, Green Party Candidate for Council and housing advocate on the DTES. “These are complex issues that can not be addressed without all hands on deck, especially the Provincial Government.
“I was extremely disappointed that no Provincial representatives were on site to work with City staff and provide housing and income supports to people who are living on Hastings. At the very minimum there should have been representatives from BC Housing, and outreach workers from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.”
The Green Party of Vancouver accepts the safety concerns expressed by Fire Chief Fry and appreciates the work City staff have done to try to deal with the difficult situation on Hastings Street but are also calling for accountability, and to review and reconsider how we can better address public safety concerns while treating Hastings street residents with respect and dignity.
“Safety has to be the top priority,” said Green City Councillor Adriane Carr. “The area has suffered major fires over the summer and the possible catastrophic loss of life that could ensue if a fire got started in that community is unimaginably horrific. I understand why Chief Fry feels this is a risk to the community’s safety.
“We also need to ensure people are treated with respect and dignity and that City staff continue to implement and pilot a human rights-based social infrastructure model of support, including immediately engaging with Hastings tent encampment residents to clearly communicate the City's plans and making adjustments based on community feedback.”
“The displacement of people is not a solution — providing homes, health and support services is. But for that we need our Provincial partners at the table. I know city staff worked hard to ensure this was handled with the utmost compassion and respect but unfortunately the City does not have the resources to resolve these issues on our own.”
Moving forward the Vancouver Greens call for:
- All levels of government, community organizations and residents to be at the table working collaboratively, compassionately and peacefully, including BC Housing, City staff, VANDU, Pivot Legal Society, and various other community groups
- The Provincial Government and non-profit partners to commit to providing support services and homes for residents of the tent community on Hastings
- Cleanup of the surrounding areas of the Main/Hastings strip, without VPD presence
- City staff to continue to implement and pilot a human rights-based social infrastructure model of support, including immediately engaging with Hastings tent encampment residents to clearly communicate the City's plans and making adjustments based on community feedback
- Implementation of a clearer system for interim storage of people’s belongings including collection and ability to access
- ACCS and Engineering Services to continue to work with community partners and engage Provincial partners on securing resources and long term solutions in the interest of the safety for all unhoused and housed residents.