Homeless camp creating controversy

High Road Services executive director Dana Gorbahn has taken the group’s 16th Ave. property off the table as a location for a homeless camp.

High Road Services Society executive director Dana Gorbahn has taken the group’s 16th Ave. property off the table as a possible location for a temporary homeless camp this winter.

The 16th Ave. location had never been officially approved, only brought up as a potential location for the temporary shelters. Other possibilities that have been mentioned by the town include Riverside Park campground and Heritage Park, across from Town Hall.

Although no location has been chosen, residents of the 16th Ave. area had a meeting last week to air their displeasure with the idea of having a temporary homeless camp set up in their neighbourhood. None of the stakeholders actually involved in planning the project were asked to attend.

Gorbahn did go the meeting, uninvited, and explained to concerned residents the location was mentioned at an initial meeting only as a possible solution because High Road Services owns the land.

More than 50 people attended the meeting, Gorbahn estimated.

Since the initial Sept. 3 meeting where the suggestion was made, it has become clear, for a number of reasons, Gorbahn said, this area of town is not best suited for a temporary camp.

“I’m willing to put it down in writing,” Gorbahn said.

“Sixteenth Ave., as an idea, was something to discuss, but it needed further exploration to make sure all parties would be happy. It’s good they raised their concerns because now we know where people are at.”

Gorbahn said he is attending a meeting with BC Housing and the Town of Smithers Oct. 16 to discuss the next steps in the project.

Late in September, High Road Services Society’s board approved the purchase of two to four camp-like structures that could house up to 12 homeless people.

The buildings would then be converted and moved to be used in one of High Road’s other projects.

“We’re looking at being able to provide this service over the wintertime and then move it to one of our other locations to become a permanent residence for our individuals,” he said.

“We just need to get the approval from the town on where and how we’re going to do this.”

High Road Services Society is currently working with the Smithers Action Group Association on how best to monitor and support the temporary camp.

At the initial meeting, Joan LeClair with SAGA estimated the Smithers homeless population to be at between 50 and 100 and said she knows of three people who died last year due to the effects of sleeping outdoors.

“This has to happen now,” she said. “This is an emergency. People need to have shelter.”

The two groups — High Road Services Society and SAGA — are both working on supportive housing projects that would alleviate some of the pressure but those projects are years away from completion.

 

Just Posted

Feds approve $4M for Tahltan protected and conserved areas

Well defined stewardship will help nation reduce uncertainties for resource partners

BC Parks student rangers complete several northwest B.C. conservation projects

This was the first time the summer program operated out of Terrace

Coast Mountain College announces interim president

Ken Burt, current president and CEO, will say goodbye to CMNT come September

Can we really expect ethics in politics?

Trudeau’s is just the latest in a history rife with political scandal

Smithers RCMP address crime index increase at quarterly update to council

Durnin said changes in the Town’s crime index are due to changes in how StatsCan collects police data

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

B.C. seniors allowed more choice to stay in assisted living

Province doesn’t need to wait for a complaint to investigate care, Adrian Dix says

Retired B.C. fisherman wins record $60M Lotto Max jackpot

Joseph Katalinic won the biggest Lotto Max prize ever awarded

New ‘Matrix’ film set with Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski

Fourth installment to feature Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity

Most Read