End Homelessness in Burnaby has been working on the homelessness issue in Burnaby, British Columbia for some time. Mayor Derek Corrigan has made comments in the past on how he feels about shelters and low income housing (read my article here on Burnaby implementing methadone clinics in 2017). The city of Burnaby is not excluded from the problem of poverty. We see it in our parks, around our sky train stations and any other place those in need can find shelter. The Burnaby Now reported that volunteers counted 69 homeless people in March 2017, up from 58 in 2014. That of course is a count of those who can be found and not those who have set up camp in our parks and forest areas. According to a News 1130 report on September 26th 2017, Burnaby is out of sync with the rest of Metro-Vancouver when it comes to finding solutions for homelessness. The lack of effective policy at the city level in Burnaby to assist those in need could very well be driving the homeless numbers up in neighboring communities as they simply don’t have anywhere to go in Burnaby. Advocates for the poor are claiming that there is a “war on poverty” in Burnaby, and city council and the mayor simply want them out of this community.
Burnaby Bylaw 7331C states
No person shall, without first obtaining the written permission of the Administrator, loiter or take up temporary or permanent abode in or on any park.
Like most communities, it is illegal to camp or make a “home” in a park in Burnaby.
Councillor Colleen Jordan has stated that the issue of affordable housing is not specific to Burnaby but to the region (as reported here).
The questions at hand, in my opinion, are as follows.
Do the tax paying citizens of Burnaby want a homeless shelter?
Does the city of Burnaby need a homeless shelter?
What are the affects of setting up a homeless shelter in a community?
Can Burnaby afford a homeless shelter and staffing it with personnel and resources?
The first question can only be answered by referendum.
Yes, Burnaby only has 69 reported homeless people, but that doesn’t mean that the lack of shelters aren’t driving our homeless elsewhere and putting the tax payers burden on other communities.
Kelowna’s shelter implementation has seen incidents of crime.
Is it our responsibility to create a homeless shelter? My opinion is that it’s a complex issue. Burnaby has not had one to date, we are a community that isn’t facing a ton of crime and making changes to our community needs to be done with all parties best interests as priority. We owe the members of our community in need safety, and we also owe those who have built homes here, families, and their businesses enough respect to value their opinion. Mental health programs need to be set up and resources implemented. Can we have a firm stance on things like drug abuse and crime while still showing empathy for those in need? I believe we can….