The tantalizing taste of early spring today and tomorrow will end abruptly by the weekend but it should also be a time to look ahead to April, when many of Prince George’s vulnerable population will likely leave their short-term housing arrangements for the freedom of outdoor camping.
Think the First Avenue encampment is a mess now? Wait until April. Wait until August.
And if campers are allowed to set up next door to the regional district office, it begs the question of why they can’t migrate to the front lawn, not to mention the front of city hall and even those nice empty school fields during the summer.
While the City of Prince George lost a court ruling last spring, regarding the Lower Patricia encampment known as Moccasin Flats, that decision does not seem to protect every camper, everywhere in Prince George. The City of Prince George successfully closed the George Street encampment across from the courthouse in November 2021 and moved its inhabitants into supportive housing. Why hasn’t the same thing been done to the First and George site, especially after a fire there this past November?
If it’s fear of another legal challenge, then why not simply follow what was done up the street less than 18 months ago? Doesn’t anyone who refuses to leave for supportive housing then have the option of relocating to Moccasin Flats?
At this point, it seems many Prince George residents would rather see the city take responsible action and then defend itself in court than stick with the lawless limbo of the current status quo. Furthermore, a court challenge would give the opportunity for the city to talk about the great strides it has made to accommodate its vulnerable population in the last 18 months.
The silence from the political leaders at the City of Prince George and the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George equals inaction and lack of caring to at least one Prince George Citizen letter writer and his short, blunt assessment of the situation likely speaks for a significant portion of the local population.
The First Avenue encampment is a disgrace but don’t blame its inhabitants.
What’s disgraceful is that its inhabitants weren’t looked after with the same amount of care and responsibility provided to the George Street encampment in the fall of 2021.
What’s even more disgraceful is the lack of action or any sort of plan that’s been communicated to local residents from local government of what’s allowed and not allowed for public camping this coming spring and summer.