‘Out of touch’: Outreach workers criticize Victoria’s deadline to ban sheltering in parks


Three weeks after setting deadlines to ban overnight sheltering in four Victoria parks, the city still hasn’t hired the housing coordinator who is supposed to get people into homes.

“It doesn’t feel like there’s organization anywhere,” said Tammy, who, after 10 years in supportive housing, was recently kicked out because her dog bit someone.

The grandmother now calls Topaz Park home and says she hasn’t seen any city effort to get people out of parks and into homes.

“Chaos every day. Just total stress. Hitting my limit, you know?” said Tammy on Friday.

On June 21, the city of Victoria voted to ban 24/7 sheltering in Topaz, Hollywood, and Regatta Park with the goal of having everyone out by Sept. 1. For people living in Stadacona Park, the deadline is Nov. 1.

“They’re out of touch,” said Karen Mills with Peer2Peer Indigenous Society, which does outreach work with Victoria’s unhoused community.

“Their expectations are unrealistic. You’re not going to get people into housing that quick,” she said.

Three weeks since they passed the motion, the city hasn’t hired the housing coordinator that is supposed to get the people out of the parks. With time ticking, outreach workers are skeptical the city will meet its self-imposed deadlines.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure to close sheltering in parks, and for good reason, it’s not where people should be living, but it takes time to move people indoors,” said Amy Allard with the See Spring Wellness Coalition, which also does outreach for the city’s unhoused.

And it’s that pressure that has outreach workers concerned. With tensions already high between campers and neighbours, there’s some fear the city will have no choice but to conduct sweeps to meet their own target.

“They’re giving these neighbours hope that’s never going to arrive,” said Mills. “And that’s not fair for anybody.”

Complicating matters further, the city of Victoria told CHEK News the future housing coordinator will only be helping some of the unhoused – those who were documented by bylaw as living in Stadacona Park on June 15, and those documented as living in Topaz, Hollywood, and Regatta on June 22.

“How’s that going to work?” said Mills. “Every single day we have new people coming into the parks.”

People like Tammy, who was just kicked out of supportive housing three weeks ago and didn’t get recorded onto the bylaw’s list.

“I can’t do this much longer,” Tammy told CHEK News.

The city’s sheltering ban comes into effect in Topaz, Hollywood, and Regatta Parks in seven weeks.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!