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‘The system needs to change’ advocate on helping people dealing with homlessness

A man experiencing homelessness and an advocate for the homeless has returned to the Bulkley Valley.

Zolicon, who wishes not to use his legal name, and his cat returned to Smithers earlier this month and was residing in Tyhee Provincial Park in Telkwa.

He said that he has since been kicked out of the park and must find somewhere else to live.

“I am currently residing on some crown land I think it’s south of town, right now I’m currently working on building a cabin on this land and I do have permission from forestry to be on this land,” Zolicon said.

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He added that as part of the Poverty Reduction Program homeless residents are allowed to stay at a provincial park for a total of 14 days per calendar year.

Zolicon said that this is expensive and people without a place to live can’t afford this.

He added that he was at Tyhee Lake for 21 days before he was told to leave and during that period he went 11 days without food.

Zolicon also said that for the most part he moved out of the park yesterday (Tuesday) besides a couple of pieces of wood that was left that he had to grab today (Wednesday).

He lived in Smithers between 2011 to 2015 before leaving to find work in the Lower Mainland.

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He is currently on disability and says he cannot afford a place to live on his own and when he lived in Abbotsford he lived with someone else on disability so they could afford a place.

Zolicon could no longer live with that person, so that’s when he decided to move back to the Bulkley Valley.

He said that homelessness is not just an issue in our community but it’s a global issue.

“It’s time that somebody stood up to [the government] and held them accountable for the things that they are doing,” Zolicon said.

He added that the system needs to be changed.

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“When someone is in need, instead of being told to get lost and go somewhere else, help the person that needs it. I mean I need help right now. I’m not looking for a hand out I’m looking for a hand up,” Zolicon said.

BC Parks said in an email, that it allows all persons regardless of circumstance to stay in its parks for fourteen days per calendar year and that it monitors the length of the stay to ensure fairness in its parks.

Additionally, the email said discounts are available through the Social Services Camping Fee Exemption Program, or BC Seniors Discount for eligible British Columbians.

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