WATCH: Province says homeless camp a health and safety issue
Victoria tent city campers are vowing to fight back, after the B.C. Government told them it was time to clear the courthouse land.
The controversial homeless camp has grown to about 120 people, which is taking a toll on the land, and even die-hard campers admit conditions aren’t ideal.
“It’s not horrible but it’s not great,” says Joseph Reville. “We don’t have a shower or running water, we don’t have electricity. If I was a refugee in a camp I would have those things.”
Growing concern over the size and state of the homeless camp has the province taking action.
Campers were given letters Friday telling them to find somewhere else to go and encouraging them to access a new temporary shelter opened up this week across from Central Middle School.
Several campers have already moved there but it can only accommodate 40 people.
“Referring us to a shelter that is pretty much full and a community service provider that can’t do anything for anybody isn’t going to solve anything,” Reville says.
Until now, the province had said it wouldn’t intervene and get an injunction to get the campers off the land unless it became a safety issue.
In a statement to CHEK News, government officials are now citing health and safety concerns, saying this land is no longer a viable option for campers.
“They sure took a long time to decide that,” says area resident James Merth. “So where are they going to go? They’ll be back in (Beacon Hill) park or some alleyway.”
But many neighbours say something needs to be done.
“I have had my tires punctured with two needles that were stuck right in my tire,” says Alan, another resident who only gave his first name.
Needles are also on nearby sidewalks and there was a fatal overdose last month as well as a stabbing.
But tent city campers are vowing to stay put and fight the province, saying that if an injunction is filed to force everyone to leave they’ll take it to court.
Some campers even burned the letters they received on Friday evening, as tensions at the camp rise.