The intent of the Nov. 30 info meeting at Evergreen Hall is to give people 'a one-stop shop' on homelessness in Chilliwack

The intent of the Nov. 30 info meeting at Evergreen Hall is to give people 'a one-stop shop' on homelessness in Chilliwack

Chilliwack panel meeting takes on challenge of homelessness

City hall has been inundated with calls complaining about the growing numbers of homeless and addicted in Chilliwack

Chilliwack officials are “ready to go” an information meeting on homelessness on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at Evergreen Hall.

Council approved the idea Tuesday after some lively discussion in chambers.

“We’ve been inundated with calls and messages,” about the growing homeless numbers in Chilliwack, said Mayor Sharon Gaetz, in broaching why the info meeting was recommended.

Coun. Chuck Stam called the “idea and the intent” behind the Nov. 30 meeting “wise” but then questioned them “owning the issue,” of homelessness since it doesn’t fall under the city’s core mandate.

Stam asked if council wasn’t “rushing” things, and suggested Fraser Health needed to be part of the panel, and maybe the springtime would be optimal for a more “fulsome” discussion of the community problem.

Mayor Gaetz agreed Fraser Health needed to be on-board, as key part of the discussion will touch on mental illness and addictions.

Gaetz has stressed on more than one occasion in the past year or so, that despite homelessness, and health, not technically falling under the city’s jurisdiction or responsibility, city officials are compelled to try to do something as the level of government closest to the people.

“As far as rushing it, we wanted to be ready with a complete package,” said Gaetz.

The intent of the meeting is to give people “a one-stop shop” on homelessness in Chilliwack, covering what is currently being done, and what the average citizen can do to help.

“I think we’re ready to go, councillor,” the mayor underlined about the meeting on Nov. 30.

Since the homeless and addicted population has been visibly increasing on Chilliwack streets, city council, with other levels of government, feel it’s crucial to tell residents what is actually being done to address the problem of homelessness, and how they can assist.

Coun. Jason Lum was somewhat critical about the fact that Chilliwack has fewer services and tools to address homeless issues than other communities. The new provincial funding, while much appreciated, does not provide any “low barrier” housing options, said Lum.å

“As long as it’s clear we don’t have the services, I don’t want us to end up owning the issue either.”

Written questions should be submitted to engage@chilliwack.com to be answered by panel members. They can also be printed on paper and handed to the moderator during the meeting. No questions or comments will be taken live from the floor.

Homelessness information meeting is on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7-9 p.m. Evergreen Hall in the Cheam Room.

Non-perishable food items will be accepted at the Nov. 30 meeting for the Food Bank.