Another two weeks until many sheltering in Victoria parks find temporary housing

Another two weeks until many sheltering in Victoria parks find temporary housing
File Photo
As of May 1, 24/7 camping in Victoria will be banned and as of now, there are enough shelter spaces to house everyone, but not all of them are ready.

The May 1 deadline to house everyone sheltering in Victoria parks is looming.

“You think that we want to be doing this? You think we’re proud to be living like this as a camper?” said Collin Spires who is living in Beacon Hill Park.

“We’re sheltering for gods sakes! We have nowhere else to go.”

Those taking shelter in parks all over Victoria, like Elijah M.C. Leister, are getting ready to move out.

“I’ve got shelter that I’ve received. Personally, I have Russell Street,” said Leister.

As of Saturday, May 1, all-day camping in Victoria ends.

At the tiny home village in North Park, however, the project isn’t quite complete and the finishing touches are still being made.

“There have been some supply chain issues, but the offers have been made…and the moves will begin May 12th,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

So what will happen in the two weeks in between? Those sheltering in parks expect confusion.

“For those that don’t take it on May 1st, it’s going to be mayhem around here,” said Fred Smith who is living in Beacon Hill Park.

The city says while they plan to enforce their new ban on all-day camping as of May 1, they’re assuring a “measured approach” to enforcement.

“We’re going to be taking an individualized approach to enforcement, so if somebody has an offer to move inside to a tiny home or motel room or the Russell Street Transitional Housing area, they won’t be asked to take their tents down as long as they’re intending to go inside,” said Helps.

For many who have been sheltering outside for over a year now, the transition inside isn’t an easy one, as they uproot from one community to another.

“Just the act of having a roof over your head, a shower a washroom, privacy, that alone helps to bring down people’s stress. And provide an opportunity for some stability, which they may not have had for years,” said Kelly Roth, executive director of the Greater Victoria Coalition To End Homelessness

An opportunity that the city, province and all the stakeholders hope is a safer, clearer path to permanent housing.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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