A group of Marpole residents say they will be protesting the site of a building to house the homeless every day until they get a public hearing to voice their concerns.

Site preparation work began this week for the 78-unit building, which will be built on the Pearson Dogwood site at 59th and Heather in the south Vancouver neighbourhood and is expected to be completed by February.

City council recently passed a bylaw to allow modular housing to house the homeless to be constructed quickly and without going to public hearing on land not zoned for single-family or industrial.

The city gave conditional approval to the Marpole project Monday.

Toronto city officials unveiled a balanced budget on Thursday morning that relies heavily on profits from a tax on home sales, but councillors were quick to question why key initiatives they approved were not in the budget.

Councillors pointed out the proposed 2018 budget doesn’t [include] some $41 million worth of initiatives, including most of the city’s poverty reduction strategy, the TransformTO climate change plan, and allowing two-hour transfers on the TTC — something Mayor John Tory has already announced will be happening.

The group of individuals who have been illegally camping on Crown land in the Chilliwack River Valley have less than two weeks to be gone.

The campers were issued trespass notices on Tuesday under the Land Act, which means they have between seven and 14 days to be gone, according to the provincial government.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations told The Progress last week that enforcement was coming by early this week. He confirmed the evictions were ordered on Nov. 28, giving them until Dec. 12 to be gone with their possessions.

Lindsay Shaw, 24, was walking downtown with a friend complaining about the price of tampons when she saw a young homeless person asking for money.

Shaw said that menstrual products are likely more of a challenge for homeless women because they are more expensive downtown “rather than the big box stores where you can buy in bulk,” and it’s difficult to carry large quantities.

A box of tampons or pads costs from $7 to $10. If a period costs a woman $20 a month, that adds up to $240 a year — not including new underwear or pain medication for cramps.

Ron Dunn, executive director of the Downtown Mission, said the number of people with mental health issues and drug addictions has become an “epidemic.” He said people talk about the opioid crisis like it’s something new, but it’s been around for a while and it’s getting worse. The mission is often “ground zero” for people who have nowhere left to go for help.

“I think we as a country probably should declare it a national emergency,” Dunn said. “Crystal meth is the drug of choice. For $5 you can be high all day, and if you have no other way to deal with whatever is causing you to be numb all day, then that’s a pretty cheap fix. We need to look at what caused them to get there.”

He said the mental health crisis the region is now experiencing actually started years ago when government institutions were shut down and patients were released into the community without support systems in place.

Former security guard Tim Button considers how a sudden increase in his income from an unusual social experiment has changed his life in this Canadian industrial city along the shore of Lake Ontario.

Sipping coffee in a Tim Horton’s doughnut shop, Button says he has been unable to work because of a fall from a roof, and the financial boost from Ontario Province’s new “basic income” program has enabled him to make plans to visit distant family for Christmas for the first time in years. It has also prompted him to eat healthier, schedule a long-postponed trip to the dentist and mull taking a course to help him get back to work.

“It’s making a huge difference for me,” Button said of the almost 60 percent increase in monthly benefits he started receiving in October from the Ontario government.

In Scarborough, homelessness is often hidden – and on Progress Avenue, a new respite centre for homeless people isn’t visible from the road.

People will be brought there, shuttled to part of an industrial plaza the City of Toronto co-owns, where they can get a hot meal, a shower and a floor mat to sleep on.

All day and night, staff can refer people to housing, or help with medical or mental health issues.

Before this, winter respite centres never appeared in Scarborough. Most have been downtown.