The City of Williams Lake has declined a local communities group call to provide short-term temporary housing for the City’s homeless population.
At a Committee of the Whole Council meeting late last month, Council received a presentation on behalf of several community groups advocating for action to provide temporary shelters (tents) for homeless people in Williams Lake.
They also requested that the City provide garbage bins and pick-up on this site and port-a-potties, fire pits and potentially snowplough access to the site.
The proposal was based on temporary housing that the community of Smithers had supplied its homeless population previously.
Mayor Walt Cobb said after City staff review the proposal and contacted Smithers; he feels it just isn’t the best option.
“If you look at the history wherever they’ve had tent town and tent operations, they have never been successful. They’ve always created health issues along with a whole lot of other things,” he said. “Also, if we set it up as a City and allow some people in there, then it is deemed for us providing their home. If, in fact, there were problems, we would have to get an injunction to get them moved because it would be like moving somebody out of their house.”
“Another one of the reasons is there not conducive to any neighbourhood that we could find,” Cobb continued. “We just made the decision that we didn’t need a short term fix; there is lots of hotel rooms available there are other things that could be available for proper housing, rather than have to set up some tents.”
Cobb added that they would be looking for longer-term housing options for the homeless population in Williams Lake.