Greater Victoria residents have varying emotions in regards to homeless people being sheltered in their communities.
The provincial government has been working to get those sheltering in city parks moved into indoor facilities across Greater Victoria since December.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of Central Saanich residents held a supportive rally in front of the Prosser Road site, which will soon feature 9o housings units.
“We thought rather than rally against the housing we would rally and support of people,” said organizer Jim Rondeau.
Fifty-one of the units will be affordable housing, while the other 39 will be supportive housing for homeless people.
“Whether it’s affordable housing or whether it’s supportive housing, what it’s shown multiple, multiple times is that if you create short-term supports and you create a positive environment people can get up on their feet and move forward,” Rondeau said.
Over in Vic West, however, one neighborhood has been raising red flags ever since it was announced back in March that a facility on Russell Street would be used as a temporary shelter to house 70 members of the homeless community. Voicing concerns over their safety and increased crime rates.
It appears those concerns may be valid.
Over the weekend, a resident of the shelter was arrested for arson following a fire that left a commercial property on Mary Street with hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
“We’re extremely nervous, we have numerous people on the street that we’ve never met, don’t know who they are, we were assured they would select people who would be ok for the community but obviously they made some mistakes,” said Russell street resident Tom Bown.
Our Place Society, the operator of the shelter, later told CHEK News the resident has been evicted from the facility. They also said B.C. Housing’s “empty the parks” mandate has put them in a very tough spot.
“We had no say who came into the shelters so we’re just stabilizing people as they come in. Obviously, this person was going through stuff that we don’t understand and there’s a much higher need then what a shelter can provide,” said spokesperson Grant McKenzie.
To date, 228 people have been given shelter.