Kamloops mayor asked to stop visiting BC Housing shelters without notice
Less than a month after his election, Kamloops’ new mayor has drawn the ire of upset shelter operators when he suddenly shows up with someone in need of a bed, sometimes in the middle of the night.
BC Housing, which is the organization that oversees most shelter spaces in the province, released a statement saying Reid Hamer-Jackson’s unannounced visits are ‘disruptive’ to staff trying to help people in the need.
« Frontline staff at the shelter are focused on supporting the vulnerable people staying there, » the statement said.
“Operators have established processes to support visits to these sites, but are unable to accommodate unannounced visits given how much they disrupt the privacy of shelter clients and frontline staff who are approached. and works in very difficult circumstances. »
Hamer-Jackson is now being asked to pre-arrange future visits.
« We urge those wishing to visit a shelter to contact the operator or BC Housing to arrange a suitable time to visit. »
The mayor says he’s trying to help
Hamer-Jackson, who was elected in October, says his visits are a result of his efforts to help people get out of the cold.
He confirmed he visited Moira House, a shelter on the city’s North Shore run by the Canadian Mental Health Association, early Sunday morning with someone in need of space in a wheelchair-accessible location.
« We went there and just asked if they had any beds, » he said. « Why should I stop trying to help people? »
Sunrise Kamloops11:40Kamloops mayor responds to BC Housing request to pre-plan shelter visits
Hamer-Jackson, owner of a car dealership in downtown Kamloops, says he constantly experiences alarms that go off at night when people in need of shelter enter vehicles on his property to try to warm up.
During the recent election campaign, he questioned the effectiveness of the shelter system in Kamloops and called on BC Housing to fund a review of local shelters to ensure accountability.
Hamer-Jackson says he’s fallen into many shelters, but has only encountered resistance at facilities run by the Kamloops chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, which recently gave up its plan to run the city’s two cold weather shelters.
He says he is surprised that his visits are considered negative.
« If trying to stop people freezing to death on the streets is wrong, I guess I should move to another country, » he said.