Sunday, March 29, 2020 

Published 2 pm


No room at the inn

Mayor Popove responds to Surrey Mayor Watts' suggestion of relocating Vancouver homeless to Chilliwack

Mayor Ken Popove, Chilliwack City Hall/Wiki photo


The currently empty BC Place Stadium in Vancouver is adjacent to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.


morning Dianne Watts made an uninformed comment that CFB Chilliwack could be used as a place to help quarantine vulnerable people from the Downtown Eastside. Immediately after hearing her comment, I called Dianne to see what she was thinking and to let her know that the old base has been transformed into a vibrant community.

She was unaware that the area is now home to the Canada Education Park and the popular neighbourhood of Garrison Crossing. Over the last 13 years we have worked hard through the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation to transform the old base into a world class education, training and research facility, featuring the University of the Fraser Valley, the RCMP Pacific Region Training Centre, the Justice Institute of British Columbia and Canada Border Services Agency. During our phone call she agreed to retract her statement and I am patiently waiting for her public response.

While I understand how important it is to protect our vulnerable and high risk population, this isn’t a situation that can be easily addressed by transporting large groups of people experiencing homelessness to a different community. BC Housing has repeatedly told us that people do best when they stay where they have supports already in place.

I have been working hard to ensure Chilliwack’s vulnerable community are protected during this health crisis. My staff have been speaking with BC Housing and Fraser Health in order to find a suitable self-isolation facility for members of our homeless population that are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

I think we can all agree that it is of the utmost importance to make sure people experiencing homelessness have access to a safe space to ensure we stop the spread of COVID-19. I believe each community should work with BC Housing and their local health authority to find a solution that works best without displacing anyone into different communities.