EDITORIAL – New rules on homeless camping show need for speed

(Image: CFJC Today)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IT MIGHT SEEM as though Kamloops City council is opening up public parks to the homeless and saying ‘Come on in,” but it’s got more to do with managing an issue that’s not at all easy to manage.

The courts have said homeless people can’t be banned from using public spaces to lay their heads when there’s nowhere else to go.

In effect, public spaces have become sanctioned as potential homeless campsites under a legal interpretation of Charter rights.

That leaves local governments looking for a balance that protects both the homeless and the community at large.

New rules introduced by Kamloops council this week specify 13 areas throughout the city where homeless folks can put up their temporary overnight shelters. The city will even distribute circulars with information on the location of public washrooms and storage areas.

Under a sort of building code for the homeless, homeless folks can put up overnight shelters of a certain size and shape. But it’s as much about where it can’t be done as it is about where it can be done.

Playground areas, sports facilities, cemeteries and places like McDonald Park are off limits.

And the wording becomes “temporary overnight shelter” instead of “temporary shelter.”

It is not, of course, a solution. It won’t eliminate the need for permanent shelters. More and more resources will be required, and there will never be enough social housing.

The City has pretty much accepted that sheltering the homeless has devolved from a strictly provincial responsibility onto the laps of local government.

The very fact the council has to be talking about rules around ad hoc shelters in parks shows that plans for new social housing can’t come about fast enough.

No matter what the rules and plans and stopgap measures, providing shelter for those who need it is going to take a much bigger bite out of city taxes over the next few years.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on and CFJC Today. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (6398 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – New rules on homeless camping show need for speed

  1. Darryl Spencer // April 12, 2018 at 10:00 PM // Reply

    The majority of homeless people living on the river banks live a big mess. This mess is not always cleaned up and pollutes the river. Nylon and poly tents. mattress, chairs, and other bedding items to name a few. Every year high water floats debris away. The city must take responsibility for the mess and have contractors cleaning it up. There is also many sharps and things that volunteers can hurt themselves on.

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