VANCOUVER (July 3, 2020) — NDP Minister for Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson has admitted that he did not consult with neighbourhood residents and businesses before moving Oppenheimer Park residents into downtown Vancouver hotels without the necessary wrap-around supports or a community plan in place to keep people safe.
“There was zero consultation with the people impacted by this decision before the NDP relocated former Oppenheimer Park residents into the neighbourhood and, as a result, residents have experienced a sharp increase in aggressive behaviour, vandalism, crime, and open drug use throughout their community,” said Joan Isaacs, BC Liberal Critic for Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “For weeks we’ve been listening to the concerns of Yaletown residents and businesses through a series of weekly roundtablesand last week’s budget estimates debate was our first opportunity to discuss this issue with the Minister face-to-face and ask questions why this plan was so poorly executed.”
Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson acknowledged there was little time for consultation with neighbourhood residents and businesses before the plan was put in place and instead suggested the concerns should be directed to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
“After weeks of listening to residents tell us about the rise in break-ins, discarded needles on playgrounds, increased vandalism, and women and families feeling unsafe walking through their neighbourhoods at night, it was very disappointing to get such vague and dismissive responses from the Minister,” added Isaacs. “Moving people with addictions and mental health issues from one place to another without the proper supports in place will not solve the problem. This ministry has had weeks to address these concerns but instead continues to ignore residents and pass the blame to others.”
The Vancouver homeless count in 2019 was 2,223, which is an increase of 20 per cent since 2016. The BC Liberals will continue pressing the NDP government on this issue.