WATCH: Homeless tent city campers say they’re doing their best but argue the B.C. Fire Commissioner’s expectations are unrealistic. April Lawrence reports.
Armed with a camera and surrounded by Victoria police and fire officials, a provincial fire inspector toured through tent city Wednesday.
Campers were given until May 25 to comply with a fire order from the Office of the B.C. Fire Commissioner.
A map posted at camp shows what the expectations are: a one metre space around each tent, proper pathways from each tent, and the removal of tarps over tents and other structures.
Tent city supporters say the expectations are unrealistic.
“They want so far distance between each tent I mean just looking at it you’ll know that’s not possible, unless we move out onto the street,” said Reverend Allen Tysick, executive director of the Dandelion Society.
B.C.’s housing ministry said the original fire order was made nearly three months ago, but Tysick and other supporters argue residents were only made aware of it on Friday.
“In five days we’ve tried to clean up areas, we’re still working on that, it’s always a work in progress,” he said.
Loni, who has lived in tent city since December, said she doesn’t think provincial officials ever expected the campers to comply.
“They’re thinking that we’re going to just sit around, laze around but if anything it’s an internal competition,” she said as she swept the sidewalk outside of her tent.
B.C.’s Housing Minister said last week if the camp didn’t comply by deadline, he would seek another temporary injunction to force the campers out.
But because of the tight timeline, advocates question whether that bid would be any more successful than the last attempt.
“I would say they would probably lose, in the amount of time they’ve given for the camp to respond,” said supporter Christine Brett.
If the province pursues another injunction and wins, campers like Loni say it’s back to the streets.
“I’ve come up with some really cool ingenious camps here in Victoria,” she said. “You guys would never even know I was even there.”
The fire inspector will now submit a report to the B.C. Fire Commissioner for consideration.
There’s no word on when the province will make a decision on a possible injunction application.