Petition aimed at addressing homelessness prompts response from mayor

An average residential street in Northern BC. Photo taken in Prince George, an hour east of Vanderhoof, by Eriel Strauch.
An average residential street in Northern BC. Photo taken in Prince George, an hour east of Vanderhoof, by Eriel Strauch.
Eriel Strauch - CFUR - Prince GeorgeBC | 05-03-2021

In January, concern about chronic homelessness in Vanderhoof was brought to the attention of the mayor and council through a petition. Hopeful to spur long-lasting change, Vanderhoof citizen Veronika Cooper started the petition which included a letter written by registered social worker Lynne Stuart. The letter highlighted current issues and ideas for positive change, such as the opening of a new homeless shelter.

The response provided by Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Theissen at the end of February referred to a potential homeless shelter as a “band-aid” solution, and encouraged the reduction of rental costs through means such as laneway houses or other types of secondary suites. In the following interview with Veronika Cooper, she discusses some reasons why this may not be a feasible way to appropriately tackle chronic homelessness. Some of these reasons include how the city does not provide adequate information to the public on how to develop their own secondary suites, and how those who do invest in developing secondary suites often do so for another family member. Ultimately, Veronika is optimistic that the exploration of the issue through the petition will help bring long-term change within her community.