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Vancouver city council passes motion to explore emergency shelters for homeless

Tents seen in Vancouver's Strathcona Park.
Tents seen in Vancouver's Strathcona Park. Global News

Vancouver city council has directed staff to look into how the city can provide emergency shelters for the homeless.

The two-day special council meeting was held to discuss a motion brought forward by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

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Staff have now been given five different options to look at.

Those options include leasing or purchasing housing units such as hotels; establishing a Temporary Disaster Relief Shelter; temporarily converting city-owned buildings (not including day cares, childcare spaces, or community centres) into emergency shelters; establishing temporary tiny-house villages on vacant public or private land; and providing a service space for for low-income RV residents.

Council has also directed staff to look into how all the options would facilitate the decampment in city parks (with the consultation of the Vancouver Park Board), including Strathcona Park.

Vancouver City Coun. Pete Fry lives in the Strathcona neighborhood, and he calls the motion a step in the right direction.

“This situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better,” he said. “And at the end of the day we’ve all recognized that dealing with homelessness and housing is not our immediate role as the City of Vancouver, but our role as the City of Vancouver is to take care of the City of Vancouver.”

Read more: Vancouver council defers debate on sanctioned tent city, emergency housing

He now hopes the motion pushes higher levels of government to help out.

“At a certain point, we need to step up and we need to pressure our government partners to join us on this,” he said. “We need to stop and take care of our city.”

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The motion also asks staff to include the possibilities of provincial and federal funding available to cover capital infrastructure investments and operating costs.

Staff have until Oct. 2 to report their findings back to council.