The province with help from the Homelessness Services Association of BC (HSABC) and BC Housing will be conducting a second homelessness survey in 16 communities, including Smithers.

According to the province, the data gathered from the counts will provide a better understanding of Homelessness within British Columbia.

The Town of Smithers also participated in a Homelessness count in 2018.

The data found 29 people were experiencing homelessness with 72 % of them self-identified as indigenous.

Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill said in some ways the number of homeless people is surprising but in some ways, it’s not.

“It’s always a bit disheartening to think about people living without a house at all without a place to go and I expect that it’s improved with the efforts the community took for the construction of Goodacre Place,” she said.

According to the report, the main barries to accessing housing in the community are the rent is too high, income too low and no available or suitable housing.

One year after the town participated in the count it opened Goodacre Place, which is a 24 unit building for people who were struggling with homelessness.

Atrill also said she hopes the number of people who were facing homelessness has improved.

“I always hope the condition of people, their housing conditions improves, that if they are without housing that housing is secured and when they have housing the quality of housing improves,” she said.

According to the province, there is no temporary winter shelter in Smithers but said it is open to hearing proposals for one from local organizations.

In a statement, the Ministry of Social Development said once organizations identify potential sites for shelters BC Housing works with them to make the projects a reality and once the project is approved funding is provided.

“BC housing has not been approached by any organization in Smithers at this time, but is open to beginning the process if local organizations are interested in moving forward,” the ministry said in a statement.

Prince George, Terrace, Prince Rupert, and Williams Lake will be participating in the count.

Last October, the Town of Smithers removed a Homeless Camp on Fourth Ave after the occupants found accommodations in Telkwa and Houston.