Central Park homeless encampment moving to Royal Athletic Park parking lot

WatchBC Housing says the encampment at Central Park is set to be relocated to the Royal Athletic Park parking lot within 24 hours after yesterday's storm ruined people's tents. Ben Nesbit has more.

A homeless encampment at a park in Victoria will be moved to a new location.

BC Housing says the encampment at Central Park is set to be relocated to the Royal Athletic Park parking lot within 24 hours following yesterday’s storm which caused significant damage and ruined people’s tents.

“BC Housing … is arranging to set up individuals — between 45-50 people — at the Royal Athletic Park parking lot, which is paved and will provide higher, drier ground,” the organization said in a statement to CHEK News.

The Victoria Fire Department will be providing replacement tents and cots to the campers and the City of Victoria is supportive of the move, the housing agency says.

The relocation is welcome news for those who call the Central Park encampment home.

“There were rats swimming around, the water came in, the banks of mud started sliding, everything was wet. All of our stored foods because everybody just got paid paid, contaminated,” recalled Tina Dawson, who lives at the encampment.

While the move will likely provide a more stable camping area, it’s clear that more permanent housing solutions are needed.

“There’s not one excuse you can give me. Why we are living in such inhumane conditions? I am disgusted right now,” said camper Darrin Murphy.

With many still struggling outside, the North Park Neighbourhood Association is calling on B.C. Housing to once again turn the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre into a temporary shelter location.

“The solution needs to happen right away. this isn’t a solution that can wait for the province to purchase real estate or to open up a facility, there are facilities that exist that is already owned by the province and city and they need to be opened up right away,” said board member Katie Fillion.

It’s unclear when or even if Victoria Royals and the WHL season will get going this year due to COVID-19 — meaning the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will likely remain empty for a significant period of time.

In the summer, the arena successfully housed around 50 people, but those people have since been moved into more permanent housing.

BC Housing has begun talks with the GSL Group, the company that operates the arena, about using it as a shelter, but said no firm decisions have been made.

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Ben NesbitBen Nesbit

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