The Langley City manager who brokered a deal that closed a tent city has been named to a new Regional Homelessness Task Force.
The City’s Chief Administrative officer, Francis Cheung, is one of 13 Metro Vancouver administrators and politicians on the information-gathering initiative that was announced Wednesday by the Metro Vancouver regional authority.
“We’re trying to get to the roots of the issue,” Cheung said.
“(To determine) what are we dealing with?”
The task force will have the job of gathering data about the extent of homelessness in the region, including an estimate of their numbers, how many are turned away from Metro Vancouver shelters, how municipalities are dealing with street homelessness and encampments and the number of permanent shelters and interim housing spaces “needed immediately to address homelessness and tent cities across the region,” in the words of the press release.
Cheung is credited with negotiating the deal in September that created a temporary relief shelter with 30 additional places at the Gateway of Hope shelter in Langley City and led to the shutdown of the tent city on the Nicomekl floodplain near 208 Street and Fraser Highway.
Cheung said the new task force aims to look “holistically” at the Lower Mainland homeless problem that each Metro Vancouver municipality has been trying to manage individually.
“Every one of us are dealing with it in some shape or form,” Cheung said.
“We’re allocating more and more time, and more and more resources.”
Cheung said the creation of the task force follows talks among members of the Metro Vancouver regional administrative advisory committee of senior municipal managers about the need for a coordinated approach that develops region-wide solutions.
“Then, maybe collectively we can go to the province or the federal government … to help mitigate the homeless situation.”
The task force is co-chaired by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.
It will hold its first meeting next week, Read said, citing the “urgency of the situation and the dire need for a coordinated regional approach.”
“We have to find a way to work collaboratively to get these people into proper homes,” Read added.
Other members of the task force include:
Mike Clay, Mayor – Port Moody
Jonathan Coté, Mayor – New Westminster
Linda Hepner, Mayor – Surrey
Sadhu Johnston, City Manager – Vancouver
Vince Lalonde, City Manager – Surrey
Carol Mason, Commissioner/Chief Administrative Officer – Metro Vancouver
Darrell Mussatto, Mayor – North Vancouver City
Lisa Spitale, Chief Administrative Officer – New Westminster
David Stuart, Chief Administrative Officer – North Vancouver District
Ted Swabey, Chief Administrative Officer – Maple Ridge