WATCH: Campers are gearing up to move on one day after the province was granted an injunction to dismantle tent city. April Lawrence reports.
Contractors are busy converting the Central Care Home on Johnson Street into 140-units of supportive housing for tent city residents and other homeless people.
The province has until August 8th to have it up and running after B.C.’s Supreme Court Chief Justice granted an injunction, ordering tent city to be dismantled.
While tent city residents weren’t commenting Wednesday, their supporters said most are making plans to move as housing is made available over the next few weeks.
“People will be excited they’ll be making preparations to finally have a home and I’m very excited by that and what’s going to happen over the next month,” said Stephen Portman, Advocacy Lead for Together Against Poverty Society.
Advocates agree there will likely be a few who refuse to leave by the August 8th deadline.
“There’s mixed emotions there of course where everybody’s wondering what this housing is going to look like, wondering what types of rules, regulations?” said Reverend Allen Tysick, Executive Director of the Dandelion Society.
Victoria Police say they’re discussing how they might handle that.
“We hope never to reach that, we hope the campers will follow the orders and leave by the 8th but we’re working with the province to determine what our next steps would be,” said Constable Matt Rutherford.
While neighbours are thrilled to see tent city shut down after nine long months, there is no question the homeless encampment forced the province to act on social housing.
“Tent city has certainly shone a light and it’s certainly got people, the province to pay attention and build housing,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
In fact, before the first tent was pitched permanently on the courthouse lawn last fall, there were 147 year-round shelter spaces in the city.
By the end of 2016 there will be roughly 502 — an increase of 355 spaces in one year.
“That’s what we’ve always wanted is for people to have safe, secure, and accessible housing to go to,” said Catherine Boies-Parker, lawyer for the tent city residents.
While the residents of tent city now have somewhere else to go, the focus will now turn to the roughly 1300 other homeless people on Greater Victoria’s streets.