August 2020 Newsletter
Camp KT Update
Here’s an update on what’s happening with the camp. It has grown beyond the track area and now there are tents all over the park. According to a recent BC Housing census, there are roughly 250 people living there, 90% of whom are genuinely homeless, making it the largest homeless camp in Canada. Portland Hotel Society, Vancouver Coastal Health and Carnegie Outreach have staff in the camp to provide medical and sanitation support. The camp also gets support from over a hundred local volunteers.
We continue to hear about incidents of aggressive behaviour, theft (especially in the gardens), discarded drug paraphernalia and arson. Whether these are related to the camp or not, they are especially concerning because the first day of school is just a few weeks away. The VPD is aware of these safety concerns and has increased patrols and response times.
If you see incidents that you feel are a danger to neighbourhood safety, please report them to the VPD, either by calling 911 if there is immediate danger or, if not, the non-emergency number: 604-717-3321. This puts the incident on record (which calls to 311 do not) and so influences VPD’s resource allocation.
If you see discarded needles, you can call PHS at 604.657.6561 or Spikes on Bikes at 604.202.3517 and they’ll send someone to pick them up in a safe way. As an extra precaution, the SCPC is organizing a morning sweep of school grounds and community centres. To volunteer, use this form or call 604-717-0622.
Katie and Dan have had many conversations with many officials about what happens next. Currently, we’re hearing little will to shut down the camp without a solution in place. We’re also not hearing much talk about alternate solutions that have worked in other cities (sanctioned camps, little houses). For City and the Province, the long-term solution is to acquire more existing buildings or put up more modular housing (here’s a recent letter from the Provincial Housing Ministry). But they also claim that to do that, they need more help from the Federal government.
Which brings us to…
Joint Appeal to the Feds
Mayor Kennedy Stewart, MLA Melanie Mark and MP Jenny Kwan have sent a joint letter to the Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Ahmed Khan. They are asking the Feds to enter into a 50-50 cost-sharing agreement with the Province to build or acquire supportive housing. We believe this type of strategy is one way to achieve a realistic long-term solution and we are supportive of it.
Here’s what you can do:
Send an e-mail to the following Ministers (just cut and paste the list below) and share your personal perspective. The SRA’s stance is this: We believe the problem of homelessness can only be addressed by the joint effort of the federal, provincial and municipal governments. We encourage the Liberal government to put action behind its commitment to cut homelessness by 50% by supporting the BC province’s request for a 50-50 cost-sharing agreement to build more supportive housing and acquire housing stock.
Women’s Personal Safety Workshop
Strathcona Community Policing Centre and the VPD’s Women’s Personal Safety Team invite women age 16 and older to participate in a unique and interactive workshop that educates women about situational awareness and personal safety. The workshop will be taught by an all-female police instructor team and will be held over Zoom on Wednesday, Sept. 2 from 6-8 PM. Space is limited. To register, e-mail your full name and contact information to email@example.com or call 604-717-0622.
Outreach Workers who work at Camp KT have offered to set up a de-escalation workshop to answer questions and give tips for interacting with people who may have mental health or addiction issues. If you’re interested, e-mail us and we’ll set something up. If you would like to volunteer or visit the camp, e-mail Fiona York or call her at 604.251.6164.
Concerts in the Park
To end on an upbeat note, Strathcona has been treated to a growing list of concerts in MacLean Park, organized by Alan Zisman. Thanks to Alan and the many musicians who have donated their time and talent for this much-appreciated return of live music. There are still many concerts scheduled for August and September. Here’s a link to the ever-evolving schedule.
In case you missed it, here are the minutes from the Aug 5 SRA Zoom Meeting.