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NDP failing those with mental health and addictions: Wilkinson

Liberal leader pledges to end homeless camps, secure cities’ streets
Strathcona Park homeless camp Photograph By MIKE HOWELL

A B.C. Liberal government would restrict camping in city parks, ban roadside panhandling and look at alternative approaches to mental health and substance emergency calls, party Leader Andrew Wilkinson said Oct. 1.

Wilkinson claimed the NDP has moved to make tent cities permanent fixtures in communities. He accused the NDP of warehousing and failing those with mental health and addictions issues without full medical supports.

“People are getting fed up with growing street crime and the increase in violent incidents. We’re all appalled at hearing stories of people being chased, harassed, or attacked. This is wrong, and it needs to be fixed,” Wilkinson said.

While a Liberal news release used the homeless camp issue as a springboard to discuss other crime-reduction pledges, it offered no solutions to the main issue.

In response to Wilkinson’s comments, the NDOP sent out a news release saying, “For any journalists who missed the details on Wilkinson's much-touted ‘Plan to Restore Public Safety and Help the Most Vulnerable,’ we've summarized them here:”

The page was blank.

The NDP has worked to end some camps, moving people into other accommodations with assistance from municipalities. Some camps have been closed down through municipal or court orders.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson Sept. 9 didn’t comment on whether she supported a sanctioned homeless campsite, saying the government’s focus is on “building the housing people need.”

“We will continue to have conversations about how we can provide supports and services for people living outside or in shelters especially as we move into colder weather —including those people at Strathcona Park,” Robinson said, noting the government recently purchased the American, Howard Johnson and Buchan hotels in Vancouver for additional housing.

Wilkinson said a Liberal government would work with municipalities, police, and community organizations. He said his party would ensure courts, law enforcement, and first responders have all the tools they need to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Our most vulnerable citizens are being left on the streets of our cities – many suffering from brain injuries, addictions, and untreated mental illness,” he said. “The NDP have abandoned these neighbourhoods and done nothing more than warehouse people who are seriously ill.”

Wilkinson made the comments at a Vancouver stop in the campaign for Oct. 24’s provincial election.