Government introduced the miscellaneous statutes amendment act (No. 4), 2023, to the legislative assembly on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.
This includes amendments to the Community Charter and the Vancouver Charter to include a description of “reasonably available alternative shelter” in situations where local governments are seeking an injunction to enforce bylaws in relation to encampments.
“Encampments are not a safe for the people sheltering in them, nor a long-term solution – and we’ve seen municipalities struggle to deal with encampments across the province,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “The lack of standard for suitable shelter has both hurt people who have been decamped without proper shelter and created barriers to resolving encampments. It’s not working for anyone.”
The amendments will describe ‘reasonably available alternative shelter’ as a staffed place where an individual may stay overnight, and have access, either at, or nearby the shelter to a bathroom, a shower, and an offered meal.
The purpose of establishing a description is to inform a court’s analysis of injunction applications for a decampment. The Province has been working to set a standard for greater clarity for the enforcement of bylaws through injunctions, while also ensuring that people experiencing homelessness have access to suitable shelter that is able to provide for their basic needs.
“Our focus continues to be on opening more shelter and housing – one piece of legislation will not resolve the challenges we’re facing,” Kahlon said. “But our hope is that this definition will provide clarity and guidance to municipalities who are seeking injunctions to enforce bylaws, while ensuring that people can access a place to stay that provides for their basic needs.”
The Province, through BC Housing, is funding 5,000 shelter spaces in 50 communities throughout B.C., including permanent, temporary and extreme weather-response shelters. While shelters provide immediate relief to people experiencing homelessness and benefit the community by bringing residents indoors, they are only one part of the housing system. Moving people into permanent, stable housing benefits everyone in the community. This is why, since 2017, more than 4,800 people who were homeless, or at risk of being homeless, moved into new supportive housing units in more than 30 communities throughout the province. The Province continues to expand shelter supply and deliver more supportive and complex care housing for people experiencing homelessness.
If the miscellaneous statutes amendment act (No. 4) is passed by the legislature, other miscellaneous amendments will also affect the following provincial statutes:
- Professional Governance Act
- Water Users’ Community Act; Drainage, Ditch and Dike Act
- Insurance Corporation Act
Details about the amendments to those acts are available in the backgrounder that follows.
For more information about B.C. legislation, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/legislation