An open letter to the residents of Smithers regarding the homeless situation in our community.
On Dec. 5, in the tent encampment across from Town Hall, a fire broke out that sent one person to hospital with serious burns.
As community leaders we have engaged with every level of government to address this dangerous and unsustainable situation, which has not yet been adequately resolved.
Smithers is a generous and strong community. Yet, our low vacancy rate, high rent and housing costs, and the generational challenges of inequity have created a desperate need for more safe housing. This must be addressed.
The province has secured financial support to open a short-term shelter but we have yet to find an appropriate location and an owner willing to make a building available.
The Province and the Town of Smithers have worked with Smithers Community Services Association to build Goodacre Place, with the Dze L’Kant Friendship Centre Society to build affordable family housing and with the Northern Society for Domestic Peace on new safe housing for women.
While these collaborations have helped many, and will help many more in our community, there is a clear need to do more.
We will continue to work with government, service agencies, local Indigenous governments, and our valley’s service and faith communities in order to safely shelter people.
It is not acceptable or sustainable to just have people living rough in our community.
We are appealing to anyone who might be willing to offer up the space necessary to accommodate a short-term shelter.
Please let us know if you can help our community and those in need.
Smithers Mayor Gladys Atrill
Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen
Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach