The province says people in need of overnight shelter will get earlier access every night, regardless of whether an extreme weather alert has been issued.
Citing an urgent need for shelter spaces in a release Monday morning, the municipal affairs and housing ministry says people experiencing homelessness, including those that were at the Regina Park encampment in Saanich, will be able to stay overnight at a 25-bed shelter in Saanich every night starting Oct. 1.
The shelter at 231 Regina Avenue, in partnership with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, will open nightly from 9 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. from the start of October to March 31.
The province says BC Housing is working with other non-profit organizations to open other winter shelters in Victoria as soon as possible, while outreach teams are helping people who are homeless with housing and support services.
The announcement comes as up to 75 people who were evicted from Regina Park last week have moved to a new location on Ravine Way in Saanich, which is on provincially owned land.
On Saturday, Saanich Police said they asked the ministry of transportation and infrastructure to enforce the Trespass Act after campers set up what they call Namegans Nation, claiming to be the first urban reserve in B.C.
What’s happening with the latest encampment in #Saanich? Check out our news release. Info on our website with who to contact – https://t.co/gdbVp9iR0f pic.twitter.com/ezV4FZxsZQ
— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) September 16, 2018
Police say the ministry has not authorized them to enforce the act, which would allow them to remove the encampment from the property.
“There is also a significantly more confrontational tone to the group than experienced during the 5+ month Regina Park Encampment,” said Saanich police in a statement.
Chrissy Brett of the Namegans Nations said in a statement Sunday, “Homeless people taking shelter and living should not be considered ‘overnight camping’. Living on this land does not pose a danger to residents and the travelling public except for the danger of being unhoused.”
A court injunction Sep. 7 forced residents of the Regina Park encampment out, about 500 metres away and about five months after it was set up.
Six of the 115 campers from Regina Park were able to find housing following the court ruling.