Vancouver moves forward with homeless transit plan
Vancouver is urging other cities to support a homeless transit plan. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)
Vancouver city council is urging other cities across the Lower Mainland to support a regional homeless transit plan that would waive fines for low-income passengers travelling without fare and offer discounted passes to shelters.
Lookout Emergency Services executive director Karen O'Shannacery told councillors, who voted unanimously to support the proposal on Wednesday, that such a plan is needed before faregates begin operating this fall.
The gates would make it difficult for people to board the SkyTrain without using the electronic Compass Card to pay.
Shelters in the region currently offer homeless people paper fare cards so they can make appointments and access services across the region.
O'Shannacery said she’s held discussions with TransLink about pursuing the plan. It would provide shelters with 50% fare discounts and ensure those on income assistance are not fined for travelling without fare.
But Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he remains to be convinced the TransLink Mayors’ Council has the power to amend bylaws to waive fines, as O'Shannacery suggested.
Judy Graves, Vancouver’s former official homeless advocate, told council it’s a plan she’s sought for 20 years.
“We really don’t want to be a region that denies the benefits of transit to a whole segment of our citizens.”