Team Burnaby promises homeless shelter for city

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Team Burnaby announced it will open a homeless shelter and transitional housing in Burnaby if the party makes up a majority on council after election day.

Team council candidate Garth Evans, a one-term councillor from 2005 to 2008, noted in a press release Thursday that the Burnaby Task Force on Homelessness estimates more than 10 people in Burnaby have died as a result of health issues related to living on the street.

“This is frankly unacceptable,” said Evans, a lawyer who specializes in social housing projects. “While other communities have stepped up to the plate, Burnaby has done nothing to address the plight of these unfortunate people.”

While there is an extreme weather shelter that operates out of a local church, Burnaby doesn't have a permanent year-round shelter.

Team said in the press release that if elected, the party would "identity an already city-owned site or would acquire a site that could be operated as a homeless shelter by a non-profit society with funding from the provincial and federal government."

Evans said, "It seems that while Mayor Corrigan and Burnaby council like to pass the buck, our neighbors are partnering with senior government to ease the plight of the homeless."

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan questioned where Team plans to open its promised homeless shelter.

"I think the community that's going to have this placed in their community needs to know what's planned by Team," said Corrigan. "Who the lucky community is, but we're going to keep it secret, is not really adding anything to the discussion.

"And they should explain why they're going to be doing the provincial government's job."

The province sold its New Haven lands for a profit but "meanwhile we're supposed to come up with land to do the social services," he added.

"Team Burnaby will quickly spend all of the city's money and raise the city's taxes if they feel they're going to go in and start doing social services."

While Team referred to city hall having $800 million in reserve funds, Corrigan said the figure is closer to $516 million and most of that is spoken for. It's money saved to eventually replace existing equipment and facilities and purchase park land, a system Burnaby has used for decades that the province is now requiring of all municipalities.

"I don't know why Team Burnaby, despite having two people that sat on council (Evans and former councillor Lee Rankin), is still confused about that," Corrigan said. "But it shows probably the level of attention they were paying when they were on council."

The NewsLeader was unable to reach Evans for further comment by its deadline.

Burnaby voters go to the polls on Nov. 19.

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