City of Terrace bylaw officers dismantled the tent city encampment at the old Co-op property owned by the city Jan. 11 to address safety concerns after the death of a local man in his tent during cold weather before Christmas.
The encampment had been vacant for three weeks on Jan. 11, according to the city, and the stretch of warmer weather has allowed staff to remove previously frozen items.
City spokesperson Tyler Clarke said in a Jan. 17 news release that bylaw officers and outreach staff made sure personal belongings and other objects were collected to either be returned or “cleaned, and redistributed”.
Clarke told The Terrace Standard there were three or four people still living at the camp just before Christmas.
Staff are unsure where all of the former campers have gone, with Clarke adding in a conversation over the phone that some might have left Terrace, while others are staying in hotels.
“We’ve been told that outreach workers have secured temporary hotel accommodations for some of these individuals but we’re unclear about the length of stay being provided,” said Clarke, adding that the city is not involved with those individual situations.
The city said it “does not believe that encampments are solutions to homelessness,” despite that, a small community began to take hold at the old Co-op lot last year — that was called a “temporary encampment” by the city.
City staff have yet to come up with an alternative for where to put an overnight tent city, where homeless people could sleep outdoors, since council rejected staff’s first idea last August of using the front lawn of city hall.
Council asked for another proposal by end of 2022, and for staff to ensure a plan for overnight camping before spring 2023 in case of an increase in homelessness.
At a council meeting on Dec. 12, Linda Stevens, the social program development coordinator for the city, said there have been delays in consultation to do with where to put a tent city, adding that the number of people camping outside has not gone down as much as expected this winter.
Stevens didn’t commit to a date but hinted at more clarity by the spring, with one factor being the Ksan Society moving its shelter from downtown to the old Elks Hall site on Tetrault on the southside.
In its release the city promised to “continue to work with our local, provincial and federal partners to find safe and appropriate options to house and care for all of our citizens.”
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