WATCH: Homeless campers at Victoria’s tent city were cleaning up a day after a Supreme Court judge told them they can stay on the provincial courthouse land for at least five more months
There was some major spring cleaning underway at Victoria’s tent city Wednesday, the day after a Supreme Court judge ruled the residents can stay through the summer.
“A lot has been lifted and everybody is sort of feeling the gusto to clean up inside their homes and around outside of them,” said tent city resident Anna McBee.
The province was seeking a temporary injunction to force the homeless campers off its courthouse property before a full trial, which is scheduled for September 7th.
But that request was denied by B.C. Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Tuesday.
“I’m disappointed with the outcome, we argued for something different but we lost that argument in court and we’ll need to respect what the judge has said,” said Premier Christy Clark Wednesday.
“How do you take someone that’s looking for housing and get them the medical needs, the clean clothing, a dietitian if necessary, medical, addictive needs, whatever they need and then move them towards permanency, and that’s the essential goal that we’re looking at here,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation, and Citizens’ Services, which is responsible for the courthouse property.
And that’s exactly what residents and homeless advocates are calling for.
“Just because there’s a trial date in September doesn’t mean we can’t move towards housing solutions immediately,” said Stephen Portman, lead advocate with Together Against Poverty Society.
Portman said while the injunction decision has bought some time, nobody thinks tent city is a permanent solution.
“I haven’t heard from a single resident of super intent city that that encampment in that space under those conditions is a permanent solution to their housing needs,” said Portman.
But unless a solution is found, the campers are going to be at the site until at least September and there will likely be others coming to join them.
“The seasonal shelters across Victoria are about to close, we’re going to see a spike of people coming to the street and where are those people going to go?” questioned Portman.
In his ruling, the judge said the province could reapply for a temporary injunction if the situation at tent city “degenerates”.