About a dozen activists gathered at a Vancouver police station yesterday morning to protest a government bill they say would allow police to force homeless people indoors during the Olympic Games.
B.C. passed the Assistance to Shelter act on Nov. 18 as a way to protect the homeless from extreme weather. Proponents argued authorities need a tool to prevent people who refuse to use shelters from freezing to death.
Vancouver Action spokesperson Sarah Stevenson called the government initiative, “the kidnap the homeless act.” She linked it to the Olympics and said it’s a way to hide the homeless from the world media.
“We all know it’s unjust and undemocratic … I think it’s safe to say the reason this bill was pushed through is the 2010 Olympic Games, once again, the elite is being placed ahead of the marginalized,” said Stevenson.
Laura Track, a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society, said the government needs to take steps to end homelessness, not to clean up the streets.
“Instead of taking steps to develop affordable housing, government is empowering police to force people into shelters that are already full.”