Vancouver's mayor says feds and B.C. need to step up funding for homeless

Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart (left) and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau | Dan Toulgoet

VANCOUVER — The deadline to dismantle an encampment along Vancouver's Hastings Street has passed with little change, but the city's mayor says he's reached out to the federal and B.C. governments for urgent funding and other supports. 

Vancouver fire Chief Karen Fry issued a safety order last month to remove the tents and structures on the street's sidewalk in the Downtown Eastside, and the street was supposed to be cleared on Wednesday.  

Mayor Kennedy Stewart says in a statement that since the order, the city has increased resources for those living on the street, including creating space to store personal belongings, street cleaning, washroom access and peer support services. 

However, Stewart says while the city is assembling these supports, the operations require significant investments from senior levels of government. 

He says he spoke this week with new B.C. Housing Minister Murray Rankin about how the city and province can co-ordinate their approaches to connecting unsheltered residents to housing.

Stewart says he also reached out to the government of Canada asking for additional urgent housing funding. 

“Vancouver has been home to a significant homeless population since starting an official homeless count in 2005 and the pandemic has only made matters worse, requiring all three levels of government to come together to take concerted and sustained actions," Stewart says in the statement. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2022. 

The Canadian Press