The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) is calling on the province to withdraw Bill 45.
According to Trish Mandewo, UBCM President and Coquitlam City Councillor, Bill 45 is a “proposed amendment that requires local governments that are applying for an injunction to provide evidence that there is reasonably available shelter space to the quality that is outlined in the legislation.”
“The problem with that is that, as local governments, it’s not our mandate to do shelter, it is the province’s mandate, it’s a two-fold problem,” she explained.
“While I can’t specifically comment about one particular community, what I can speak on is the rules currently in place.”
“For example our unhoused people may seek shelter in parks, in other spaces designated by the municipality like Prince George, but they can’t shelter in any place that they choose,” she explained.
“The court uphold this approach and those are the rules municipalities have been working with. The problem with Bill 45 is that it will limit the ability of municipalities to obtain injunctions for encampments and the likely impact of the legislation is that municipalities will find it harder to enforce sheltering bylaws, and the result will be more encampments.”
Mandewo said while they agree shelter spaces should meet certain standards, but the greater issue is that the province is not providing enough spaces.
“These legislative changes have been done in a rushed manner without consulting local governments,”
“Our advice to the province is to withdraw the legislation, meet with our members and meet with UBCM and other partners so they can develop a better approach that not only addresses the shelters, but the whole housing crisis, which is what the basis of this is.”
Mandewo said the entire discussion shines a light on the issue that there isn’t enough supportive housing, complex care, and shelter beds for the unhoused population of the province.
“Until there is, encampments will continue to be a reality in BC’s communities,” she said.
“I believe we do not solve this through legislation, but through providing the housing.”