Vancouver mayor proposes team of 25 counsellors to address street disorder if re-elected
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says, if re-elected, he would offer residents and businesses looking for help dealing with individuals suffering from mental-health, addictions crises or homelessness the chance to call a mobile team of trained counsellors instead of police.
Stewart, who is running for his second term in next month’s elections, said under the proposal, residents would be able to call the city’s 311 help hotline to dispatch members of a team of 25 new counsellors instead of law enforcement.
An advocate for the Downtown Eastside said she supports the new service to help de-escalate incidents involving those suffering from a mental-health crisis, but another candidate says the proposed Health and Addictions Response Team isn’t the answer to the violence and unprovoked attacks happening regularly in the city.
Stewart said residents or businesses don’t always know whom to call when they see someone in distress on the street or on their property, and often end up calling police. That can sometimes escalate the situation, he said.