Doctors call for patience, compassion as decampment of tent cities continues
Published Sunday, May 3, 2020 5:09PM PDT Last Updated Sunday, May 3, 2020 7:23PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- Doctors who work with homeless patients living in tent cities in B.C.'s capital say they're pleased the province has secured hotel rooms for those individuals, but they're calling on the government to do more to ensure those moving into the hotels have adequate support.
Physicians working with Island Health's Inner City COVID Response Team say they want to ensure that the steps B.C. has taken lead to new solutions for homeless Victoria residents, rather than new tent cities in the future.
Last month, the province announced it had secured hotel and motel rooms for homeless people living in tent cities, so that they could safely self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During its announcement, the province set a deadline of May 9 to have all residents of Victoria's Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue encampments moved into the rooms.
On Sunday, doctors from the inner city response team told CTV News Vancouver Island they hope that deadline is flexible, arguing that ensuring those moving into the hotel rooms have the support they need is more important than clearing the tent cities by a specific date.
"We just want to help balance safety and the province's wishes with trauma-informed practice," said Kelsey Roden, a physician working with the inner city group.
Roden said it's still "early days" in the province's decampment plan, adding that she wasn't yet sure how she would assess the effort.
She said she hopes those working with homeless residents are able to gain their trust, and that the fences that have been put up at both Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue don't impede the plan's progress.
"Some of our patients struggle with past traumas related to incarceration, things like that, and so it can create a bit of a feeling of aggression," Roden said. "Not always, and we don't know that that's happening. It's just on our radar."
"The more trust we have, the better rapport we have, the easier things go," she added.