The province has estimated the cost of repairing the Victoria Law Courts property at $350,000 but one landscaper says that price tag is extreme and is offering to do the work for free
Today it’s a sea of mud, tents, and makeshift shelters.
A quick look at Google Street View shows just how different the lawn outside the Victoria Law Courts looked last year, before more than 100 homeless campers moved in.
Now that the province is seeking an injunction to force the remaining homeless campers out, it plans to return the property to its original form.
It has estimated the cost of returning the property into a landscaped, public place at as much as $300-350,000 dollars.
But it says it would only be that high if the soil is found to be contaminated — that contamination could be from human waste, needles, or accelerants used to start fires.
The province says it would also have to get rid of any structures left behind, replace the topsoil and sod, assess the irrigation systems, re-grade the property, and replace five trees and 60 meters of hedge.
But Magnus Bjornson, who has been a landscaper in Victoria for 20 years and a supporter of tent city, insists the project doesn’t have to cost taxpayers so much.
“A lawn that size done well above most people’s standards would still only be about $40-50,000 dollars,” he said.
But it could be even cheaper considering Bjornson is offering to do the landscaping for free, with a team of volunteers — and he’s not the only one.
The owner of 2 Burley Men Movers says his company would also pitch in to clear the place out.
“I would estimate it would take probably 10 people two full days to do the cleanup, so 160 man-hours… if I wasn’t doing it for free, we’d be looking at 16,000-20,000 dollars,” said Scott Burley.
Not long after some former campers heard Burley’s offer they stepped up to volunteer and help clean up.
The province says it hasn’t received any formal offers for free services but that it’s open to exploring the idea.