Saanich police say they are not authorized to remove a new encampment that has emerged on provincial land Friday near Uptown.
Owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, police say they notified the ministry who has not authorized police to enforce the Trespass Act allowing them to remove the encampment from the property.
Officials note that they have noticed it becoming increasingly entrenched overnight and throughout the course of the day and that large quantities of furniture and materials are being delivered to the site.
“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.
They add that the population has quickly grown to approximately 25 tents.
Campers from the previous tent city in Saanich’s Regina Park moved to the greenspace near uptown between Highway 17, Carey Road and Ravine Way after a court granted the District of Saanich and the Province of B.C. interlocutory injunctions to require Regina Park cleared.
Just 24-hours after their removal from Regina Park roughly 100 campers and supporters rallied in Rudd Park in Saanich Friday before heading out on a protest march that led them to the new site.
READ MORE: Regina Park tent city in Saanich now empty
“From the evidence we’ve seen, over the course of the 5+month encampment at Regina Park, there was a large increase in criminal activity which mostly involved property crime and persons offences. Please know that our officers are conducting increased patrols in the neighbourhood,” said police in the statement.
Organizers say the move to provincial land was intentional to avoid municipal bylaws, but also to bring the issue of affordable housing a step higher. They have also changed the name of the protest.
“We’re no longer Camp Namegans, we’re Namegans Nation and we’re claiming the first urban reserve here in British Columbia,” said camp founder Chrissy Brett to CHEK News Saturday.
The groups is anticipating some sort of trespass notice in the days to come. But if housing isn’t made available, the nation says they are ready to stay in 100 parks over 100 days as part of their protest.
Brett adds that the new camp will also be set up to better comply with fire bylaws.
Saanich police are asking anyone with general inquiries about the use of this property to contact the ministry directly, or their local MLA office.