Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Sweet Home Vancouver

Tent City At Oppenheimer Park
Tent cities have been appearing in public parks all over the Lower Mainland and places on Vancouver Island this year as the homeless try to bring some sort of normalcy to their lives with at least a roof over their head. An eyesore to the rest of the community, dangerous and unsanitary for those living there, and they leave the parks off limits to anyone else. But where can they go? For these folks the sky high rents in the rest of the City and the overpriced high rise condos are something in another galaxy.


As bleak as the tent cities are in Vancouver it couldn't be much better living in what passes for housing on some of the First Nations reserves. Poorly insulated, mouldy, and squalid, they wouldn't even pass 3rd world construction standards and on top of that they have to stand up to extreme weather conditions. Add in overcrowding, because there is a backlog of housing construction on up to 40% of the 3,100 reserves in this country, and you have another version of homelessness that is in many ways far worse than the tent cities.


Strange how the mining and oil & gas industry has no problem with housing whenever they want to house workers at a particular site no matter how remote it may be. They bring in pre-fab housing for hundreds of employees that is designed to withstand the elements and set it up in no time without any help from the government. But in spite of a $200 million per year budget for First Nations housing nothing gets done.



For Northern communities that are only accessible by ocean these pre-fab complexes could be assembled in fall and winter and loaded onto ships for delivery when the ice melts in late spring and early summer. Another example is using converted shipping containers. Having a number of these dropped off would then provide year round employment to the local community while they did the interior conversion work.


Tents aren't even that much fun when you're camping never mind trying to function as a home. Addressing the homeless situation in this country is not a matter of technology but simply being practical and taking advantage of solutions that already exist. Setting up a work style camp for the tent city dwellers is an obvious solution. Even in Vancouver it should be possible for everyone to have something they call home sweet home.



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