Saanich police have issued a cease occupation notice to Regina Park tent city occupants, which takes effect immediately.
The Notice to Cease Occupation was issued on Thursday on behalf of the District of Saanich. The notice has the following requirements:
- People experiencing homelessness may take temporary overnight refuge in Regina Park and erect and occupy a temporary shelter within Regina Park between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9 a.m.
- They may otherwise visit Regina Park between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.
- They must not occupy or remain in Regina Park on a continuous basis.
- They must not leave their personal belongings in Regina Park on a continuous basis.
“Notice is hereby given by the District of Saanich for the second and final time that your continuous occupation of Regina Park is unlawful,” the notice reads.
“The District of Saanich requires you terminate your occupation of Regina Park by removing all tents, shelters and personal possessions from Regina Park.”
The city also advises that there is a temporary hygiene station and storage facility located at the rear of Municipal Hall, 770 Vernon Avenue, approximately 600 metres away by foot from Regina Park. It is open every day from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“They provide an opportunity to use washroom and shower facilities, and to use a secure storage bin to store essential items of personal property during daylight hours. These facilities are provided to assist you in complying with the Parks Bylaw,” the notice reads.
On July 9, Saanich Council adopted amendments to the Parks Management and Control Bylaw, which brings Saanich’s bylaw in line with court decisions around overnight sheltering in parks, including specific times and restricted areas for temporary overnight sheltering.
The tent city occupants were previously given a notice to vacate on June 8 from the Saanich Fire Department. The camp was set up at the end of May and the city installed a portable toilet and garbage containers at the location.
At this point, police can’t force the occupants to leave.
“These aren’t criminal matters. They’re contraventions of park bylaws, so it’s not possible for police to arrest people for contravening a park bylaw,” Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said Friday.
“What we usually do is issue tickets in those cases. This is not practical in this situation.”
If tent city occupants don’t comply with the cease occupation notice, the municipality would need a court injunction to have them removed from the park.