WATCH: The City of Victoria has spent roughly $600,000 on tent city, and with running water, electricity, and toilets being installed, the provincial bill is likely even higher. April Lawrence reports.
Flush toilets and showers were installed Monday in the parking lot next to Victoria’s tent city.
Along with power, running water, and increased security, it’s all part of the mounting provincial taxpayer bill for the controversial homeless camp.
The costs to the city are adding up as well — it has already spent $600,000 on tent city, and that bill is growing by $90,000 each month.
“Extra public works, extra parks, extra bylaw and extra police,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.
“It is more costly to taxpayers when people are homeless than when they’re in housing, plain and simple. And this is the stat: $20,000 per year to house someone with mental health and addictions challenges, $55,000 per year per person when that same person is on the street,” she said.
Area resident George Churcher said it all could have been prevented.
“It’s pretty reprehensible what both levels of government have spent,” he said.
He said he started warning the province about the growing problem on the courthouse lawn back in 2014.
He said he was told the province was going to act on it, but then had a change of heart.
“They were now going to deal with the issue of camping on the courthouse grounds in another way but they were monitoring the situation,” said Churcher.
What they monitored was the courthouse lawn going from a few tents to more than 100 tents, tarps, and wooden structures.
Camp supporters say since homeless people don’t receive the shelter allowance on their social assistance cheques, the government should use that money to pay for services.
“Their $375 of shelter portion that the province is saving by them being homeless should then be going into the cost of running the camp, the bathrooms, showers, the electricity, the water,” said Christine Brett.
The province is now promising to provide homes for anyone at tent city who wants one, as it heads to court at the end of the month to try, once again, to get tent city shut down.