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Safety for People in Homeless Encampments

We are deeply concerned about the vulnerability of people with inadequate housing whose wellbeing is threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid health emergency, both of which disproportionately impact Indigenous people.

The BCCLA is urging the province of BC, the Cities of Vancouver and Victoria, and associated police agencies to not enforce a Ministerial safety order forcing the eviction of homeless encampments in Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver and Pandora corridor and Topaz Park encampments in Victoria. In the absence of adequate housing for all, we are highly concerned about the well-being of people being displaced and evicted from encampments under the threat of criminal sanction.

Jointly with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, we are also urging the City of Victoria to continue to suspend enforcement of bylaws requiring homeless people to move on a daily basis in between sheltering overnight in public space, which essentially prevents them from sheltering-in-place. Further, in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice enshrined in the Charter, we are also calling on the City to clarify or remove rules about when enforcement officers can seize and dispose of shelters and other property belonging to a homeless person.

In the middle of two health crises, policing the pandemic and criminalizing approaches to homelessness will only further the vulnerability and lack of safety that homeless people, disproportionately Indigenous, experience every day.

You can read our letter regarding the provincial decampment order here and our letter regarding sheltering in parks here.