… according to Pivot Legal Society, hostile design does more than just shoo homeless people away, it engenders a city-wide atmosphere of exclusion, driving Vancouver’s most vulnerable off the street into the city’s parks.

Not only does defensive design reinforce negative stigma, but it pushes homeless individuals to set up “informal tent city structures,” where people feel a greater sense of security and community, says Meenakshi Mannoe, a community educator.

According to data released June 12, approximately 2,223 homeless people were living in Vancouver this past March, including 614 without a shelter.

Inn from the Cold, a Kelowna-based not-for-profit society that offered emergency shelter, case management and in-home support since 1999, is closing its office.

“It is with much regret that we feel we have no choice at this time but to close the society’s office,” said Kim Froom, the treasurer, in a press release.

In January the Inn closed the doors on the emergency shelter it operated, having lost its lease because the property had been sold for redevelopment. The search for a replacement space came up short.

While the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled a complete ban on overnight sheltering in parks violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is still possible to forbid homeless camps on a site-by-site basis, one B.C. community has determined.

In Langley City, a second site is about to become off-limits, with overnight camping banned in Rotary Centennial Park off 208th Street and Fraser Highway.

A proposed ban was given preliminary approval by council during their June 10 meeting, who passed it unanimously with no discussion.

Their tactics may be controversial but protesters who rallied in Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam last week in support of local homeless people are raising issues that need to be addressed.

Every person counts and while the Tri-Cities may have a relatively small number of homeless people — compared to other cities, such as Surrey, Langley and Vancouver, which have two to 10 times the number of people without homes, according to the 2017 count — it’s still important to meet their complex needs.

A Port Coquitlam homeless man says police and bylaw officers routinely seize his belongings and are trying to push people like him out of the community.

Ross Brydon has lived on the streets for more than 15 years and currently resides in a tent along the Coquitlam River. He said it is not uncommon for homeless people like him to return to their camps to find all of their possessions gone and a card for 1-800-GOT-JUNK left behind.

“I don’t understand the thinking behind it,” he said. “Where does it help to take someone’s possessions? Anyone that hopes to assimilate back into society, they are not going to do it by having bylaws [officers] seize their belongings.”

The B.C. government is changing policy in a bid to help break the cycle of poverty and build a future for vulnerable citizens.

The policy changes include ending penalties for families providing room and board to a family member and decreasing the work search from five to three weeks. Access to the identification supplement will be expanded, as will access to the application process for Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers programs. This is also due to be simplified. As part of the raft of changes the “transient” client category will be removed, as will the $10,000 asset limit on a primary vehicle. Asset limits for people on income assistance will be increased and the moving supplement for people to move anywhere in B.C. will be developed.

We’re now 10 years on from the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Or, as our national mythology puts it, 10 years since Canada breathed a deep sigh of relief as the crisis mostly grazed our economy and financial system.

Since 2008, we’ve had 10 years of congratulatory back-patting over our system of financial regulation, 10 years of low inflation and low interest rates, 10 years of periodically oil-driven economic growth—and 10 years of exploding housing prices, of renovictions and demovictions, of working people pushed out of some cities and a real estate investment bonanza for the homegrown and foreign rich.