WATCH: They didn’t exactly meet the 11 a.m. deadline but the homeless campers at Goldstream Provincial Park are now gone. Some have now moved onto a Saanich property.
Homeless campers who were at Goldstream Provincial Park have now left the campground and have set up their tents on a Saanich property.
On Monday night, there were approximately 20 homeless campers at the park who had declined to go on a school bus that was supposed to deliver them to shelter spaces the province has lined up for them, including 25 spaces at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre and other facilities in the Victoria area.
By late Tuesday morning, about 12 people in the group had missed the 11 a.m. provincial deadline. BC Housing, Pacifica Housing and Together Against Poverty were at the campground to work with the campers.
Then at around 12 p.m., only three people were still at the campground and were waiting to be picked up. They were gone about an hour later.
“As a community, we are looking forward to getting our lives back to normal,” said Leonard Chevrier, who lives nearby Goldstream park.
The campers arrived at Goldstream Provincial Park days after they were evicted from provincially-owned land in nearby Saanich. Prior to that, they spent five months at Regina Park before a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted an injunction to shut down that tent city.
Chrissy Brett, a spokeswoman for the homeless people at Goldstream, said Monday that many members of the group wanted to live together and were considering moving elsewhere in the Greater Victoria area, including Langford, Saanich, the Cowichan Valley and Oak Bay. The group has since announced they are setting up camp at the residence of Saanich mayoral candidate David Shebib.
“People have said take them home to your own backyard if you are such a bleeding heart he’s actually opened up his yard to us,” said Chrissy Brett.
The owner of the property, Sam Seera, has told CHEK News he is upset the group has moved onto his property, which David Shebib’s son rents. He said he only found out after the district called him and told him people were setting up tents on his property. Seera plans on doing everything he can to get them out.
Brett says they will stay at least until after the election to regroup and finally get the rest they’ve been hoping for before making their way to another location. She isn’t specifying where that might be but says staying in Saanich or going back to Langford are both options they’re considering.
“Tent cities are not an answer to replace housing but until there is housing,I think that its something in Canada, people should have the ability to belong somewhere,” said Brett.
Goldstream’s park’s campground has been closed since the homeless campers arrived Sept. 20. The Ministry of the Environment said there is no date planned for reopening the campground. However, they would like to open it as soon as possible after impacts have been assessed and remediation has been completed if needed.
The park’s day use area and group site have remained open.