The District of Saanich has issued a notice to vacate to the dozens of individuals who have been camping out at Regina Park for more than a month.
There are 40 tents scattered among the grass at Regina Park with around 50 homeless people currently living there. Organizers of the camp said they want the Capital Regional District’s largest municipality to step up and create more affordable and supportive housing.
On June 8, the district issued the notice to everyone occupying the park that said their “continuous occupation of Regina Park is unlawful.”
According to the district, a person who is homeless is permitted, when necessary, to put up a temporary overnight shelter in a Saanich park, between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. The shelter and any personal possessions have to be removed by 9 a.m. the next morning, and can’t be stored at the park or abandoned.
“Your occupation of Regina Park is also ‘trespass’ pursuant to the Provincial Trespass Act, as the continuous occupation of Regina Park is an activity which is specifically prohibited by the District of Saanich,” the notice reads.
“The District of Saanich does not consent to, permit or authorize your continuous occupation of Regina Park.”
A notice was also issued by the Saanich Fire Department, which said the encampment has led to the presence of numerous fire hazards and safety concerns. The fire department said all of the tent city residents are ordered to comply with the following immediately:
1. No open flames whatsoever are permitted inside tents or structures. This includes open flame heating, lighting and cooking appliances, candles, matches, and cigarette lighters.
2. No flammable liquids, flammable or compressed gases, or any other flammable materials shall be brought into, used or stored inside tents or structures.
3. No portable generators or any other equipment capable of discharging carbon monoxide shall be brought into, used or stored inside tents or structures.
4. Cooking inside tents or structures is prohibited.
5. Smoking of any kind inside tents or structures is prohibited.
1, All tents and structures must be separated from one another by not less than one (1) metre of open space.
2. All tents and structures must be arranged and oriented to maintain a clear path of egress from each tent or structure to a safe area.
3. No tent or structure shall be covered by a tarpaulin or other covering material, unless it is a tarpaulin certified as non-flammable by the manufacturer. A certified non-flammable tarpaulin shall be used to cover one (1) tent or structure only, and must not be used to cover more than one (1) tent or structure.
4. All flammable liquids, flammable or compressed gases, and any other flammable materials must be stored at least three (3) metres away from any tent or structure, and any refueling of heating, lighting, cooking or other appliances must be done at least three (3) metres away from any tent or structure.
5. All open flame appliances must be used and stored downwind from, and at least three (3) metres away from any tent or structure, and must be fully extinguished when not in use.
6. Portable generators and any other equipment capable of discharging carbon monoxide must be used and stored at least one (1) metre away from tents or structures, and must be positioned in such a manner as to prevent the accumulation of carbon monoxide in or near tents or structures
“Take note that nothing in this order consents to, authorizes or permits your continuous occupation of Regina Park, and the Saanich Fire Department expects that you will comply with the notice to vacate served on you by the District of Saanich,” the fire department’s notice read.
The park is owned by the District of Saanich and they have installed a portable toilet and two garbage containers. The district said it will not comment at this time on what further and additional steps may be taken in relation to the encampment at Regina Park, as it is an ongoing legal matter.