Skip to content

City continues “status quo” approach to homelessness

Terrace drops tent city plans as winter approaches
A sign at a homeless camp in Terrace reads “liddle Vietnam.” (Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

The City of Terrace has yet to come up with an overnight outdoor shelter solution for homeless people in the community. Council sent staff back to the drawing board after staff proposals for a tent city on the city hall lawn were rejected.

READ MORE: Terrace city hall proposed as site for overnight tent city

Since shelter spaces in Terrace don’t meet demand, the city isn’t allowed to prevent outdoor camping in specific public spaces, like parks and residential areas, without a designated overnight location where people can go.

Council had hoped to find a spot by end of the summer but Linda Stevens, the social program development coordinator for the city, said in August that bylaw officers would continue moving homeless people on a “case by case” basis when complaints arise.

Complaints about encampments had decreased over the course of the summer, she said, even though the estimated number of encampments has stayed “fairly constant.”

City spokesperson Tyler Clarke told The Terrace Standard on Thursday, Sept. 15 that staff are now expected to report back to council by the end of this year and are looking at “benefits and challenges of the various options.”

READ MORE: Origin of Terrace homeless population confounds city council

Mayor Carol Leclerc said in August it was clear that staff’s city hall tent city idea was “not a very popular recommendation” expressing relief that “what’s been working will continue to work for the rest of the season.”

Coun. Sean Bujtas, who is the city’s mayor-elect as he was the only person to file nomination papers for the position, said he’s “fine with the status quo” for now but stressed the importance of finding a spot in case of an increase in homelessness.

But Coun. Lynne Christiansen said the approach of city bylaw officers isn’t working, adding that a lack of services is driving the problem as more people are camping in residential areas.

“I’m not happy with the status quo. I don’t think we’re doing it right. I think our community is looking pretty shabby,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘Street dad’ mourned by Terrace homeless community

With the winter season approaching, Clarke said more extreme weather beds will be made available.

Clarke said over the past few years the number of people sheltering outdoors has tended to go down in the winter months.

As it becomes colder out Clarke suggested that people living outdoors in warmer weather months may be “moving back to home communities” or staying with friends and family.

He said the Ksan Society is working with BC Housing on shelter capacity and should update the city “as we head into the winter months soon.”

There is no new strategy to deal with urban fires in the wintertime, as people sheltering near homes and businesses start fires to keep warm.

“We always advise the people involved with the fire, that it is against the city’s bylaw to start this type of fire within the city’s limits,” said Clarke on behalf of the fire department. “Then we put the fire out.”

READ MORE: Fire impacts Terrace encampment by CN railway tracks

READ MORE: Minor damage after early morning fire outside Terrace Standard office


Do you have a comment about this story? email: