Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson issued the following statement this afternoon:
Early this morning, a homeless woman known on our streets as Tracey, died tragically, trying to stay warm during a freezing night in Vancouver.
Tracey’s death is exactly what we’re all trying so very hard to prevent by mobilizing every resource available to make sure no one else suffers the fate of Tracey and Mr. Darrell Mickasko, who died in a similar tragedy last winter.
It’s painfully clear that—for all the efforts of case workers, faith groups, police officers, governments and caring people across the Lower Mainland—people like Tracey and Mr. Mickasko need our very best if we’re going to prevent more suffering in the cold, cold days ahead.
I believe the people of Vancouver, and indeed all Canadians, share my sense of deep urgency when it comes to homelessness and health for our friends who are most at risk. We must redouble our efforts and commitment to ending the unacceptable status quo, and I want to urge every citizen to make whatever contribution they can to this important work.
The Vancouver we hold in our hearts cannot be a city where people die of exposure. Yet today, we face the second death this year.
There are gaps in our safety nets, despite the best efforts of police and street workers, and we’re going to work even harder to make sure we remove every barrier we can for people like Darrell and Tracey. We’re opening shelter space for people with carts and pets, who might otherwise avoid a shelter, and we’re going to keep working hard throughout this tough weather to protect people from harm.
At this time of year, when the spirit of generosity is in abundance, many of us look to ways we can assist those in need. Ending homelessness is the first priority for our council, and I get asked a lot about how people can help.
During these past few days with the cold weather, we’ve been flooded with calls from people asking how they can help. I’ve spoken with Janice Abbott of Atira Women’s Resource Society, and with Judy Graves, the City’s Homelessness Outreach Coordinator, and they’ve offered this list of items that those without homes this winter are most in need of:
- Bus tickets
- Winter coats
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Thermal underwear
- Wool socks
- Sleeping bags
- Tarps (preferably small)
- Hygiene items (combs, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, nail clippers, etc)
Donations can be made to Gather and Give, a non-profit charity that provides a centralized inventory for organizations working with those in need. It is open Tuesday-Saturday, and is located at 105-418 East Kent Avenue South—just east of Main and south of Southwest Marine Drive. www.gatherandgive.org