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EDITORIAL: There is no evidence to support ‘homeless bus’ rumours

There is no ‘magic bus’ dropping off hordes of unhoused people into Vancouver Island communities
Rumours have persisted for years that unhoused people are being bused to the Comox Valley, en masse. The same unsubstantiated rumours have been circulating for just as long in virtually every community in B.C. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE

It’s time to put a perpetual, and foundless rumour to rest.

There is no ‘magic bus’ dropping off hordes of unhoused people into Vancouver Island communities. Really, there’s not.

Every week there’s a new post on one social media platform or another that “another busload of unhoused people (usually more derogatory term is used) has been dropped off in our town, this time behind the courthouse” or in the park, or at the community centre, or close to the McDonald’s.

There is no concrete evidence to suggest this is happening.

More accurately, it’s not possible. Why? Because the same rumour persists in nearly every community in B.C. In the Cowichan Valley, unhoused people are being shipped from Vancouver, Nanaimo and Victoria. In Nanaimo, they are allegedly coming from Victoria and Vancouver. In Campbell River, they are being brought in from the Comox Valley.

Virtually every community in the Lower Mainland is supposedly receiving buses of homeless people from Vancouver, every week.

Northern B.C. is getting homeless people shipped from Northern Alberta. And so on…

Tall tales like these do nothing to support those in need, and only really serve to fuel fear, anxiety and anger.

Consider this: If even half those drop-offs were real, the unhoused count in our community – and every community in the province – would be exponentially greater than it is. Conversely, if Vancouver and Victoria were constantly sending these people out of those cities, wouldn’t the homelessness issue be resolved in those centres?

Indeed, there are more unhoused people in our community — in all of our communities — now than there were five years ago. In some cases more than even this time last year.

The same stands true in virtually every community, regardless of size.

Why? Because housing has become an unsustainable concept for many—particularly those who are either working for minimum wage, or receiving social assistance. And yes, there are those in need who come to our community seeking help—but they are not being “shipped out,” en masse, from other jurisdictions.

To suggest things like “providing supportive housing will only bring more homeless to our community” is dangerously short-sighted.

Supportive housing is needed in every city in the province, and all levels of government are working to provide this.

Organizations working with governments to provide solutions to our housing crisis need our support, not distractions like the ‘magic bus’ scenario.

— Black Press Media