WATCH: Amid growing violence and crime and increasing fire concerns the province announces it will seek another injunction to shut down tent city. April Lawrence reports.
Police officers raced in to tent city after a member of the media was assaulted Friday afternoon.
“Several members of the media were on site conducting some interviews and apparently the suspect did not want to be filmed, and the suspect ended up pushing and kicking one of the reporters,” said Victoria Police Const. Mike Darling.
A suspect was arrested and taken into custody while the victim, a CTV videographer, was interviewed by police but appeared unharmed.
The assault came less than 24 hours after a robbery and assault just across the street — the manager of the Norwood Arms apartment building was attacked by two men in the parking lot Thursday evening around 8:30 p.m.
His wallet was stolen and police are now searching for two suspects: two Caucasian men in their early 20’s, one with blond hair and a black hoody, the other with brown hair and a yellow jacket.
The increasing level of crime and violence in and around tent city, along with growing fire safety concerns, have prompted B.C.’s Housing Minister to seek another injunction.
“The province will go back to court next week sometime and ask for an injunction as early as we can possibly get it,” said Rich Coleman.
On Wednesday a provincial fire inspector toured the site to see if residents had complied with an order to increase spacing around tents, and remove tarps and combustibles.
In his report released today, the fire commissioner said they haven’t, and that “the danger to life safety created by the fire hazards is increasing and is considered to be only a matter of time before a serious fire incident occurs.”
Tent city supporters say forcing residents out won’t improve their safety.
“They’re not going to be any less at risk of being in a tent fire if they’re elsewhere, there is still going to be flammable materials, still going to be no electricity, no needs for candles, people do smoke,” said Christine Brett.
For angry neighbours the injunction application is welcome news, and they plan to take a front seat in court.
“A number of citizens in the area, a number of residents, have retained a lawyer, and the lawyer is going to be making application so it won’t just be the province going after the injunction but we also want to be intervenors,” said Stephen Hammond, spokesperson for the residents group ‘Mad as Hell’.
In the last, failed, injunction application the judge said the province hadn’t provided enough shelter options — this time Coleman says it will be different.
“We will have a home for all these people so it won’t be an excuse that they have no where to go so I would hope that the courts would look at that and give us the ability to go in and once and for all to take down and mitigate this camp,” he said.
If, and when, tent city will be dismantled, will once again be up to the courts to decide.