To the extreme?

A confidential government document obtained by Public Eye states BC Housing will use "Extreme Weather response protocols" to deal with the "higher number of homeless persons requiring assistance" during Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Those protocols open up around 600 temporary shelter spaces in Metro Vancouver.

But they will also allow police to use a soon-to-be granted power that will let them forcibly take homeless people to a shelter.

In an interview with Public Eye, Pivot Legal Society lawyer Laura Track said, "If the plan is to use the extreme weather protocol to open up more beds during the Olympics, the corollary is that during the Olympics the police will have the ability to use force to take people off the streets."

But Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman said the government won't be abusing those protocols, stressing they'll only be used if the conditions triggering them actually exist.

"If there's no extreme weather during the Olympics, no protocol gets activated," he promised.

The BC Housing document explains there could be a higher number of homeless people because of an "influx of persons to the lower mainland."

A ministry spokesperson stated the reason "Extreme Weather response protocols" was listed as the sole solution to the problem was because it was the "only existing option currently available to BC Housing to create additional shelter spaces."

But Minister Coleman explained Vancouver's Olympic organizing committee will be setting up temporary hostels so Winter Games visitors won't use the city's emergency shelter beds.

The committee is spending $250,000 on an East Vancouver-based hostel, which should be ready by early December and capable of housing 400 people during the Games.

1 Comment

The Minister can promise all he wants, but he'll be in the skyboxes raising money with his pals for political causes instead of driving the cop cars enforcing the order. Now those people need to make the promise and should have had input, not the Minister.

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