David Eby promises quick and decisive action on homelessness as premier of British Columbia

David Eby, the person most likely to succeed John Horgan as premier of British Columbia, says that under his leadership, the province will do what is necessary to address the current homelessness crisis facing cities like Vancouver are facing.

Eby said in places like Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, there was a lack of coordination between the province and the city.

“I think it’s the province that needs to step in and take responsibility and accountability for the neighborhood,” he said. “I think we’re now past the point where the city can respond, and I think it will depend on the province.”

The comments from one of the province’s most vocal housing advocates come as authorities continue to remove tents and structures from the sidewalk of one of the city’s busiest streets in its poorest neighborhood.

In July, the Vancouver Fire Department ordered the immediate removal of tents and structures along East Hastings for safety reasons in the Downtown Eastside.

The dismantling of another tent camp in the town has led to violence between police and locals and confusion over where the displaced should go.

Eby worked extensively on the issue of homelessness as a lawyer at the Pivot Legal Society and as executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) before entering politics.

He had been attorney general of British Columbia since his election in 2017 in the riding of Vancouver-Point Gray and, for the past year and a half, minister responsible for housing.

During his tenure as housing minister, Eby developed a reputation for wading through local town halls over housing projects when he saw them stalled or stalled, sometimes coming into direct conflict with local leaders.

Last month, he relinquished those portfolios when he announced he would seek the leadership of the BC NDP after John Horgan announced he would step down this fall after a successor was chosen.

So far, with only one other candidate running against him, Eby looks set to become the next prime minister before the general election on October 19, 2024 or before.

In a nearly 30-minute interview at Vancouver’s Strathcona Park, once the site of a tent camp, CBC host Stephen Quinn The first edition, pressed Eby on the seemingly intractable problem of housing some of the province’s most vulnerable people and the resulting encampments.

“The idea of ​​someone getting on a cruise ship and getting off and that’s what they see from Vancouver, I think we’re all embarrassed by that, not to mention people who actually live on the streets in these conditions,” he said. .

People are pictured in East Hastings in the Downtown Eastside neighborhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday August 3, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“The province will and must lead”

Eby said he remains convinced the problem can be solved, but only with all levels of government, advocates and community organizations working together. He said there is currently a lack of coordination and he would use his experience in the Downtown Eastside to bring people together.

“It’s one of the unique things that I bring to the table in terms of leadership, it’s history in the neighborhood, still connections in the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s going to take focused effort, and I think the province will and should lead that, and it will if I’m successful in my candidacy.”

Eby criticized the City of Vancouver, which he said often has complicated approval processes in place to build temporary modular or permanent housing that can be built quickly.

“We need that sense of urgency from the city, and I think we can get it, but I think the province is going to have to summon it.”

A tent camp at CRAB Park in Vancouver pictured in April 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

This week, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said ‘cities can’t do this alone’, about housing displaced people from the East Hastings camp and called for more provincial and federal help. .

Eby said as premier he will act to expedite the replacement of single room housing (ORS) in Vancouver, much of which is in disrepair and a factor pushing people to decide to live in encampments instead. than in ORS.

The city indicates in a report that in 2019 there were 6,680 SRO rooms opened in 157 SRO buildings.

Eby also pledged to do more as prime minister to implement health supports for people with illnesses, both mental and physical, that can be a barrier to proper housing.

“There are a lot of people on the street who are deeply ill and have appropriate responses, whether it’s outpatient services or something where they have to spend time in hospital or a care facility. or a supportive environment where they can actually have a chance, instead of letting them completely overdose and then die on the streets.”

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