Thursday, June 1, 2017

Langley City addressing symptoms of homelessness while working towards a solution

The number of people who are visibly camping in our parks and on the street, has increased markedly over the last several years. As I pointed out yesterday, the number of people who are experiencing homelessness in Metro Vancouver has been increasing over the last decade.

A recent series of court rulings allows people to camp in parks and on city property between 7pm and 9am under the condition that their shelter be temporary and be removed daily. Anyone has the right to be in a park during the day.

As I posted about this week and in the past, there are solutions to reducing homelessness in our region and in Langley City. It will take all orders of government, service providers, and the faith-community to address this challenge. This is why Langley City created the Homelessness Action Table. The Action Table has all the players at the table who can address the root causes of homelessness in our community.

Our Langley City budget also includes funding for a Community Liaison Coordinator. The role of this position is to work with social service agencies, the RCMP and the business community to address the root causes of critical social issues in our community.

While the Action Table does its work, we must also address the symptoms of homelessness in our community.

Last year, Langley City resources were stretched to the limits addressing the symptoms of homelessness. Our bylaw department had very little time to address any other matter. Significant resources were directed to cleaning up garbage, needles, and addressing vandalism.

Langley City council and staff were fully aware that City resource would need to increase to both address symptoms relating to homelessness, as well as address other matters such as parking enforcement and dog off-leash issues.

Langley City hired a new bylaw enforcement officer as well as a new manager of bylaw enforcement. As you can see in the following chart, the number of calls for service relating to homelessness matters increases during the summer months.

Bylaw enforcement calls for services relating to symptoms of homelessness between 2014 and 2017. Select chart to enlarge.

Langley City is hiring an additional temporary bylaw officer for the busy summer months. At the same time, the City is also ensuring that cleaning up of garbage and needles, plus fixing vandalism is addressed in a timely manner.

Langley City is working both to address the root causes of homelessness while dealing with the symptoms. It is certainly not an ideal situation, and I hope that with new funding and programs at the provincial and federal levels, the number of people who are homeless will decrease.

If you see anything in our community that needs addressing, please use Request for Service. If you see something unsafe or you feel unsafe, please call the RCMP at (604) 532-3200. If there is an emergency, please call 911.

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