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Premier, city council talk homelessness in Prince George

Premier David Eby meets with Prince George city council. City of Prince George photo

City council emerged from a meeting with B.C. Premier David Eby on April 14 with a strong sense that the provincial government grasps the challenges affecting the homeless, residents and businesses in Prince George’s downtown core.

“People want to see solutions to challenges related to encampments in BC communities, and housing to help people move inside, safely,” said Premier David Eby, in a news release. “Following our initial meeting in January, I was pleased to meet with Prince George’s mayor and councillors again to explore ways to work together on these challenges for the benefit of everyone living in Prince George.”

“We feel our engagement with the Premier was productive,” said Mayor Simon Yu. “We talked about encampments and the health and safety matters facing our community, in addition to reiterating Council’s support for the province’s ‘Homes for People’ plan.”

Central to the discussion were encampments in Prince George and the limited options available to house its residents. As the result of a previous court ruling, the Lower Patricia encampment cannot be cleared until sufficient, accessible housing is available for residents of the encampment.

The province, through BC Housing, has opened 114 new supportive homes in Prince George since 2017, including welcoming residents last June into 50 units at the First Avenue housing project. The city anticipates working with BC Housing to explore the provision of interim housing supports for the next phase of the project – an additional 50 new supportive homes.

Council also urged the premier to consider designating Prince George as a pilot community for various newly-announced provincial programs and initiatives aimed at tackling the homelessness, addiction and mental health crisis gripping many communities in British Columbia.

The city looks forward to supporting the province as it works to deliver meaningful results to those in our community impacted by unsheltered residents, addiction and mental health challenges.

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