With the number of people living on the downtown Prince George streets earlier this year, along with the soaring incidents of crime and vandalism affecting merchants, allowing a tent city on the vacant Lower Patricia Boulevard over the summer was a good, temporary move.
The tent city, later dubbed Moccasin Flats, provided the street people with a degree of autonomy and housing security, as well as a place to avoid being ticketed under the safe streets city bylaw. It gave social services agencies an easily accessible location to provide support while efforts began to find more reliable and safer temporary and long-term housing arrangements.
The time has come, however, to close this location as a housing alternative for the street population before someone dies, either of exposure, a deadly fire or a vicious assault of the kind that occurred Friday morning.
The victim in the video eventually got to his feet, stumbled a few feet, fell and then rose again and slowly moved away, clearly injured from the attack. Meanwhile, the attacker quickly ditched his green jacket, put on a helmet and rode his bike away when a police car arrived on the scene a short time later.
Simply put, Moccasin Flats is not safe anymore for anyone. For the vulnerable people, the weather and the individuals who would attack them to steal their belongings, settle a score or for no reason at all poses a huge safety risk. Great strides have been made to secure enough temporary housing for Moccasin Flats residents so that the City of Prince George can legally clear the tent city.
As for the predators and other criminals living on the streets and preying on the vulnerable addicts and victims of trauma and mental health conditions, there is already a temporary housing arrangement in place for them, known by its more common name – jail.
Surely everyone can agree, regardless of their political views on the broader issue of homelessness that it’s no longer safe for anyone to be camping there. Once enough temporary housing is in place, closing off Lower Patricia Boulevard can’t happen fast enough.