Shelter supporters reluctant to speak

Supporters of the HEAT homeless shelter under the Granville StreetBridge held a news conference yesterday to say that “some condo owners”want the facility to remain open.

Supporters of the HEAT homeless shelter under the Granville Street Bridge held a news conference yesterday to say that “some condo owners” want the facility to remain open.

At the event, however, it was hard to find an area resident willing to speak up in favour of the facility.

Wendy Pedersen, with the Carnegie Community Action Project, said people are reluctant to make their opinion public.

“I’ve met in the last three days five supporters of this shelter who live in this neighbourhood,” Pedersen said. “All of them said they wouldn’t come today.

“They didn’t say it (was) because they were intimidated, but people don’t want to put themselves out there because (the shelter is) too hotly contested.”

Opponents of the shelter say it has brought crime and open drug use to the area.

Supporters claim someone dropped a bag of feces on them from the bridge on July 11. It contained an expletive-filled note calling shelter users “losers” and telling them to return to “East Van.”

Mayor Gregor Robertson has planned meetings with local residents and businesses to determine whether the shelter will stay open past the end of the month, when funding runs out.

The shelter’s fate is ultimately up to B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman.

 
 
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