At last night’s (Tuesday) Town Council meeting, residents living near Chandler Park and those who use the field voiced their opinions about moving the homeless encampment to town property behind the Smithers RCMP encampment.
Of the concerns voiced, those around Ecole Le Grand-Ourse constructing a new school building on the old Chandler Park School site.
Residents living along Third Avenue voiced concern around having the encampment close to their properties due to vandalism and garbage.
The site was proposed at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting as a solution to the Parks and Open Spaces bylaw amendment to create temporary overnight sheltering locations as required by law.
Councilor Frank Wray moved to have the location between Chandler Park and the RCMP detachment removed from consideration.
During discussion, he said, “It was my idea. Sometimes ideas come to the council and sometimes are debated. As an experienced councilor, I probably should have put a pause on this so there was a proper announcement and a proper consultation.”
He added part of his decision to have the location considered was because of crimes that occurred at the current encampment last summer, and the proximity to the detachment would act as a deterrent for future crimes.
“There is nowhere where you can put this encampment that it doesn’t affect people. Where it doesn’t affect children,” said Wray.
Councilor Sam Raven also spoke on how the town is looking for a solution to work in the short term.
“We are constantly advocating for larger services such as supportive housing and shelters. We’re not looking at moving an encampment, washing our hands, and walking away. We are looking at the larger issues of mental health support, treatment, detox. We’re looking for a parks and open spaces bylaw to give us solutions for the short term.”
Council accepted the motion and removed the Chandler Park location from consideration as an encampment location.