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City’s homeless strategy back before council in April

City staff will present reports on how “to protect the safety of both occupants of the Lower Patricia area and residents of the Millar Addition.”
The west end of an encampment on Lower Patricia Boulevard, called Moccasin Flats by residents, is seen on Thursday, March 9.

Reports on how the city plans to implement a strategy to centralize homeless campers in the city at the Lower Patricia encampment, called Moccasin Flats by residents, will back before city council on April 12.

On Monday, city council approved the first three readings of an amendment to the city’s Parks and Open Space Bylaw which would designate Moccasin Flats as the only public space in the city where overnight sheltering is allowed.

“The designation of a single overnight sheltering area is intended to facilitate the provision of geographically-centred safety services from a variety of agencies, including fire, police and health services, and will encourage the focused delivery of support services from various agencies and organizations, which the city hopes will assist in connecting those sheltering outdoors with permanent housing and the supports they need,” a city statement issued on Friday said. “The city anticipates that the amendments to the Parks and Open Space Bylaw will elicit strong opinions from many members of the community, and is aware that outdoor sheltering areas frequently raise safety concerns, for both individuals sheltering outdoors and the broader public. Council has directed staff to urgently report on specific measures to protect the safety of both occupants of the Lower Patricia area and residents of the Millar Addition, and consideration of those options is scheduled for April 12.”

By court order, the city is not allowed to ban overnight camping at the Lower Patricia site until suitable housing is available to all residents of the city.

“There are no simple solutions to the complex circumstances that lead to homelessness. The Province is responsible for providing housing and social support to unhoused individuals,” the city statement said. “No municipality has the jurisdiction or the financial resources to provide the supports which are required to meet the humanitarian standards that all people deserve on a continuous basis. Only the province can adequately address these serious issues, and the city is working hard to attract increased provincial involvement.”