Earlier this week, Prince George City Council approved a plan to make Moccasin Flats in lower Patricia the one and only outdoor space where our city’s homeless population can stay overnight.
UNDU (United Northern Drug Users), an organization that works closely with people living with Moccasin Flats, does not agree with the call, and is frustrated by the city’s lack of support in the area.
Juls Budau is the UNDU Program Coordinator, she said there are numerous reasons why the choice did not sit right with her and the organization.
“I think it takes away a lot of personal freedom from people,” she said.
“Some of these folks are still traumatized from when the city came in, destroyed all of their things, and then denied that it ever happened.”
Budau also does not believe the encampment has enough space to hold the entirety of Prince George’s homeless population, and that people who do not have the capacity to build shelters could be at a serious disadvantage.
“Some people don’t want to be found,” she continued, saying some homeless people – many of whom are indigenous women – are avoiding predators or former abusers, and being held in one location could cause a serious risk to some of these people.
Many of the frustrations stem from long-standing issues UNDU has had with the city – she said the encampment would be a lot more livable if the city helped provide some of the basics.
“They are not giving Moccasin Flats toilets, they are not allowing us to hook up to power, there is no running water in Moccasin Flats,” Budau explained.
“They want to force people to go there without providing anything sanitization-wise.”
Saik’uz First Nation is currently providing Moccasin Flats with two porta-potties that are serviced twice a week. There is also no access to running water in the area.
UNDU wants to connect to hydro and provide power to the camp.
Budau said they have offered to fundraise the money and make it happen themselves, and the city has denied the requests.
This has forced the camp to run solely off gas powered generators, she said it costs up to $75 a day just to run the trailer at the encampment where hydro would be just dollars.
A consequence of this, Budau warned, is “if they force everyone to depend on generators, there will probably be a lot more gas theft around the city, frankly. Because how else are people going to stay warm and alive?”
Especially if the city plans on moving the homeless population to one location, Budau is calling on them to give the camp access to power, running water, provide more portapotties and sanitization options, and bring back the dumpster service that ran in summer of 2021.
City staff will return to council with a centralization plan at a later meeting, as well as a report with options to increase police presence in the Millar Addition and downtown.