WATCH: Victoria City Council has approved up to $113,000 in extra funding for Victoria Police to increase patrols in the area around tent city. April Lawrence reports.
There were more police than campers visible at Victoria’s tent city Friday.
Officers were responding to reports of a man that had been assaulted in a tent.
They said his injuries weren’t life-threatening and he was not being cooperative with police.
In an address to city council Friday afternoon, Victoria Police Acting Chief Del Manak said calls to police in the area around tent city have increased, adding there is a significant criminal element.
“There are street gang members that are living on site, there’s lot of threats of intimidation and violence, there’s drug trafficking that’s occurring on site,” Manak said.
And he said just last week an officer was injured during an incident at tent city.
“Regularly our officers are met with aggression, insults hurled our way, attempts to intimidate the police and move us off site, and that’s just something that we’re not going to do and tolerate,” he said.
Today, in a special meeting, VicPD asked city council for up to $113,000 dollars to increase its presence in the area around tent city.
“The surrounding community doesn’t seem safe, we see their concerns are legitimate,” said Manak. “We would like to deploy two officers in a three to five block radius around tent city.”
After much discussion, the request is approved.
The officers will start patrolling the area six hours a day, seven days a week immediately.
Mayor Lisa Helps said the additional funding won’t increases taxes because it will come from a contingency fund.
She’s hoping today’s decision will prompt the province to pay for policing in tent city itself.
“If we’ve got two cops on site, even from six p.m. until five a.m. I think that will make a difference,” Helps said.
Police estimate about 120 people are living at tent city and about 70 to 80 of those are truly homeless.
Supporters argue there is no more violence and criminal activity there than at other shelters in the city.
“Can you pull the statistics for Our Place, can you pull the statistics for Rock Bay and see how many assaults, how many stabbings?” Brett questioned.
“It’s a homeless issue not a tent city issue,” she said.
VicPD’s plan calls for increased patrols for the next four months but B.C.’s Housing Minister said the province may head back to court as soon as next week to seek another injunction that, if successful, could shut down tent city much sooner.