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Wilkinson bashes NDP response to homeless during pandemic

Warehousing the homeless?

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson blasted the NDP Wednesday for “warehousing” people without homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After delivering a campaign speech at the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ convention, Wilkinson visited Victoria businesses harmed by their proximity to temporary homeless shelters bought in by the NDP government.

In some cases, the businesses have been unable to reopen following the COVID-19 outbreak or have seen a rise in thefts, vandalism, trespassing and open drug use near their stores.

“It’s turned into a mess,” Wilkinson said. “What the NDP have done is paid far more than the market price for old motels, moved people into them and then basically abandoned them.”

But, when asked how a Liberal government would handle the same issues, Wilkinson would say only that it will take a multi-government approach to treat the root causes of homelessness, drug addiction and mental-health issues.

“It’s not working right now,” he said. “We can see that all over British Columbia. “There’s a better way to deal with homelessness, and we’re going to have a plan to do that.”

Clif Leir, who owns a diner adjacent to a temporary homeless shelter at the former Paul’s Motor Inn, said B.C. Housing’s decision to purchase Paul’s Motor Inn for temporary housing prevented his diner from reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown, throwing about 20 people out of work.

But he feels the Liberal leader was simply looking to throw mud at the NDP rather than find solutions.

Leir said it’s time all parties stopped slinging mud and started looking for answers. “Everyone’s just pointing the finger and there’s not many people actually stepping up with solutions that consider all involved,” he said.

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan told reporters that he will continue to work with the mayors of Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna and other cities dealing with an increase in homelessness due to the pandemic.

“But these are not short-term fixes,” he said. “I think British Columbians understand that, wherever they may live.

“We have serious issues ahead of us. It’s not a 12-month proposition. It’s a four-year proposition, and that’s why I’ve called an election so we can settle the politics [and] put them behind us.”



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