Letters to the Editor

Burnaby Mayor Corrigan’s homeless case doesn’t stand up

Question: What do you get when 42 congregations, assorted businesses, the Burnaby Board of Trade (BBOT), BC Housing Corp, Progressive Housing, the Burnaby Municipal Greens, and now Team Burnaby, all line up to support a local emergency shelter and related services?

Answer: One isolated BCA mayoral candidate and frightened council slate.

When will Derek Corrigan free his partisans to follow their hearts? He still parrots lines from the NIMBY book: Homelessness is not my jurisdiction; Burnaby lacks the money; which neighbourhood gets the facility?

Let’s take the mayor’s arguments against a civic investment in a homeless shelter one at a time.

Which neighbourhood? The homeless are already here. They live in Burnaby neighbourhoods. A managed shelter and transition housing will take them off neighbourhood streets.

Not the city’s jurisdiction: The B.C. Court of Appeal recently held, in a suit brought under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that the City of Victoria could not enforce its “no-camping” bylaw until and unless sufficient shelter beds exist as an alternative. Burnaby, like Victoria, has no permanent shelter beds. Does Mayor Corrigan propose to test the Victoria “precedent” to determine that homelessness remains beyond civic jurisdiction?

Burnaby lacks funds: $800 million is apparently not enough. But let’s take Derek at his word. His successor can finance a contribution without any net spending. How? Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson commissioned a Vancouver Police study which determined more than 30 per cent of calls involved marginally-housed (a.k.a. homeless) people. The officers were spending thousands of civic dollars every day arresting, booking, and releasing the homeless.

G. Bruce Friesen

president, Burnaby Green Party

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