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The and 24 Hours to co-sponsor housing debate at St. Andrew’s-Wesley

There are more than 10,000 homeless people in British Columbia. That’s two homeless Canadians for every athlete invited to compete in the 2010 Winter Games.

Both of Vancouver’s leading candidates for mayor have named homelessness and affordable housing among the most pressing issues facing B.C.’s largest city. But neither Peter Ladner nor Gregor Robertson have provided many specifics about what they would have the city do to nurture the creation of affordable rental housing and facilitate appropriate treatment for addiction and other mental illnesses.

On the evening of Oct. 22, that’s going to change.

The Homelessness and Mental Health Action Group at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church is presenting a mayoral candidates debate entitled “Everyone Needs a Place to call Home,” and co-spondored by both The and 24 Hours/Vancouver.

This free public debate will focus strictly on homelessness, affordable housing, mental health/addiction treatment issues. It is designed to show where each candidate stands, how they differ, and if elected, how they propose to deal with these critical issues.

The moderator will be Ric Matthews, Minister of First United Church in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. First United has a long tradition of serving those who suffer from homelessness, addictions, mentally illness and other medical conditions who might otherwise not survive.

The panel posing the questions to the candidates includes; Frances Bula, a city columnist and a contributing editor with Vancouver Magazine; Monte Paulsen, investigative reporter for The Tyee and a regular contributor to Vancouver’s 24 Hours; and Dr. Nancy Hall: a healthcare consultant and B.C.’s former Mental Health Advocate.

The Tyee/24Hours debate is open to the public at no charge – unlike the $790-a-table Vancouver Sun debate scheduled for that same morning at the Vancouver Board of Trade.

The free debate will be held at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (Burrard and Nelson) on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008. Doors open at 630 p.m.; debate begins at 7 p.m.

Monte Paulsen is editor of The Hook.

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