Protesters at Terrace city hall advocating for homelessness relief have added a petition to their latest efforts.
The protest was first organized by women from a nearby transition house on May 16 after one of them was notified that their stay at the shelter had run out, leaving her without a place to stay.
The woman, Marjorie Brown, was later allowed back into the shelter, but the daytime vigil on city hall’s front lawn continued for more than two weeks.
Brown is now distributing a petition addressed to the city, regional district and the federal and provincial governments requesting an area of city-owned land be allocated for a ‘tent city’ and more affordable housing be provided.
“With this, my hope is it gets to the people in parliament because it’s long overdue and I hope to find other cities will follow suit and make it Canada-wide,” she explained.
A count of people living outdoors in the city conducted by the Terrace and District Community Services Society through a city grant in late April found that the number had grown to more than a hundred.
Some are already living in tents in wooded areas close to the city.
Brown has been visiting local businesses and agencies, asking them to display the petition and is circulating an online version.
The protesters put their demonstration at city hall on hold this week, citing a need to focus on their personal circumstances.
“If nothing happens, I’ll be back,” assured Brown.
She plans to continue advocating for housing and homelessness solutions until she sees something change.
“Everything boils down to having an address,” Brown said, referring to the struggle those who are homeless face when trying to find jobs and housing.
The ‘tent city’ proposed by the petition would see the city provide services to ensure the safety of its inhabitants in the interim before they can move into more permanent housing.
Brown envisions that such a location would provide bathrooms and shelters and protection from harassment by the public.
“It’s just for sleeping, it’s just a sleeping solution,” she said.
She also hopes the tent city will keep drinking out of the city parks and the homeless from being picked up by police for public intoxication.
The petition does not mention the extreme weather homeless shelter proposed by Ksan House Society and turned down by Terrace city council in April.
Proposed at a location in the downtown core, it would have accommodated people, including those who had been drinking.
Brown said that although that’s something she’s advocating for, she left it off the petition as she was under the impression there was another petition already circulating.
Brown also has further plans to find out the number of people in Terrace who are struggling with indoor homelessness.
“I want to do a count of people in Terrace that are living with other families – and the youth – that’s a different kind of homeless count,” she said. She wants people to have a clear idea of the amount of homelessness here.