Our Place has opened a new 20-bed winter shelter that will replace some of the spaces lost earlier this year when organizations were forced to take in fewer people each night to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Grant McKenzie, the organization’s director of communications, said the society has received money from B.C. Housing to lease the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s downtown community centre at 755 Pandora Ave.

“It’s only 20 mats, but because of COVID you need a lot of space,” he said.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is calling on the federal government to create its own basic income pilot project to replace the one that was prematurely cancelled by Doug Ford’s provincial government in 2018.

The national chamber adopted the resolution, which was put forward by the Hamilton and Thunder Bay Chambers of Commerce, at its annual general meeting this week.

It calls on the federal government to create a basic income pilot project and “assess the potential costs, benefits, pitfalls, challenges and outcomes of a nationwide basic income social assistance program.”

In late September, a new designated outdoor camping space for the homeless was announced, moving from the ball diamonds on Recreation Avenue to a vacant industrial lot along the rail trail on Baillie Avenue.

The new location, however, has been used little with the majority of Kelowna’s homeless opting to shelter in the downtown core on colder nights.

“I think that our community of people who are sheltering outside have already voted with their feet. Last night there were four tents there, so people are simply finding other nooks-and-crannies, different places in the city to be, they’re simply not utilizing it.”

In a recent piece on the current state of food banks, Paul Taylor remarked, “We demand gratitude for what we’ve given.”

In a country where food has been recognized as a human right by the state (see the Universal Declaration on Human Rights), emergency access to food should not feel like a handout. People should not feel a sense of obligation to the person or institution who provided that food.

These historic notions of generosity and servitude are pervasive today, lingering still in the ways that we position emergency access to food as an act of charity. As long as we talk about food in the context of charity, we continue to rid the state of its responsibility to deliver on the right to food.

Remote Indigenous communities face a problem as the changing climate makes it more difficult to access traditional sources of food.

That issue, which is detailed in a new report by advocacy group Human Rights Watch, is exacerbated by the fact that many communities have a lack of alternatives that are both affordable and nutritious.

“It’s difficult for our people to access healthy foods,” Vern Cheechoo said Wednesday at a press conference that coincided with the report’s release.

This election campaign has seen a lot of talk about crime and public safety related to tent cities and the threat they pose to communities.

There’s been less talk about the root cause of the encampments — poverty.

“This whole system is falling apart because we’ve just frozen it in time where everything magically cost $375,” said Karen Ward, a community advocate who lives in the Downtown Eastside. That’s the amount single people on income and disability assistance get for rent in British Columbia.

“People can’t get out of poverty — where are you going to rent?”

In tiny Elliott Park, a spartan municipal campground with seven gravel-topped campsites, visitors can stay for five dollars a night with no check-ins and no permits required. The Exeter, Ont., park is maintained by volunteers and operates on an honour system similar to the roadside vegetable stands that dot this community of 4,800 people in Huron County, about 40 kilometres north of London, Ont.

In 2016, complaints started about campers overstaying. Some allegedly left drugs and drug paraphernalia scattered on lots a few blocks from the busy downtown shopping district. But as the municipality moved to clean up the park and ban long-term camping in 2019, the larger community was forced to confront deeper issues that had previously festered out of sight.