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Opinion: Housing minister talks out of both sides of his mouth on encampment evictions

The hypocrisy demonstrates his poor leadership and people on both sides of the homeless debate should be wary.
Ravi Kahlon in Prince George
B.C. jobs minister Ravi Kahlon speaks to media in Prince George at the Wood Innovation and Design Centre.

BC Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon seems to be quite selective with where he directs his criticism.

On April 5th, 2023, the City of Vancouver removed the East Hastings encampment. At the time of eviction, only 8 of the encampment residents were given additional housing. The minister simply said, "We have dedicated spaces available for people, so when folks on the front lines identify someone who says they need housing, we're able to get them into shelters right away."

On April 11, 2023, the City of Victoria cleared a homeless encampment in downtown Victoria. CTV news reported that residents were not being offered any housing. No comment from the minster regarding the situation could be found.

When the City of Prince George moved to clear the Millennium Park encampment, the minister slammed the decision with a tone and message much different from the Vancouver and Victoria evictions. Instead of silence or demonstrating optimism for the evicted to find housing, he strongly criticized the city’s decision.

This selective criticism from the minister raises the question about how the minister views Prince George and the north. Given that the situation in Prince George is like the cases mentioned in Vancouver and Victoria, is he using our homeless situation as a punching bag to score pro-housing political points or is he withholding his criticism for the Lower Mainland and the Island due to their seat count?

In either case, the hypocrisy demonstrates his poor leadership and people on both sides of the homeless debate should be wary.

Given that BC Housing has no development projects north of Williams Lake, the Minister and BC Housing at least make one thing clear. We just aren't a priority.

Haakon Sullivan

Prince George

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