Organizers of growing tent city in Saanich say they plan to stay

Organizers of growing tent city in Saanich say they plan to stay

WATCH: Originally part of a roaming protest camp, a tent city set up on the side of the highway in Saanich has no plans to move. April Lawrence reports.

If you’ve driven on highway one in or out of Victoria in the past month you’ve likely noticed it, a group of tents set up in a grassy area near Uptown shopping centre.

It started out as part of a roaming protest camp, but it now has no plans to move.

The camp has set up in municipalities across the capital regional district over the past year, including Colwood, North Saanich, and Oak Bay.

There are 40 tents now scattered among the tall grass in Regina Park, with about 50 homeless people currently living there.

The camp has been growing since it first set up there a month ago.

Organizers say they want the CRD’s largest municipality to step up and create more affordable and supportive housing, including sober housing, and housing for seniors and students.

Until that happens, they have every intention of staying, and turning the park into a “tent city” ? similar to what they created on the Victoria courthouse lawn two years ago.

“We’re no longer roaming and we’re here for a period of time until Saanich can step up and ask the province to step up and maybe the federal government with actually implementing some short term and long term housing goals here,” said Chrissy Brett, a leader in the camp.

The site has portable washrooms and mowed pathways, but the group plans on cleaning it up even more in the coming days.

Well they confirm that Chrissy Brett hasn’t given them an end date for the tent city, Saanich Police say they attend the camp every day to speak with Brett.

The fire department and parks staff visit weekly to ensure public health and safety.

Saanich does have a parks bylaw prohibiting anyone from sleeping overnight in a park, or setting up a tent without a permit, but for now say they will continue to engage in dialogue with the campers.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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