‘Scattered’: Tents removed and people dispersed 1 day after Pandora encampment cleanup

‘Scattered’: Tents removed and people dispersed 1 day after Pandora encampment cleanup
Victoria crews are pictured on Pandora Avenue on May 16.

Our Place Society had a plan to get people off the 900-block of Pandora Avenue, but it looked nothing like the operation that happened Thursday morning that saw dozens of tents and campers dispersed.

One day later, in an area where 40 to 50 tents stood, only a handful remain, and Our Place CEO Julian Daly says the people who called the boulevard home haven’t returned.

“No, no they’re not. I wondered if they would but they absolutely haven’t,” he told CHEK News on Friday.

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Thursday morning, bylaw officers, escorted by VicPD officers, moved in and took down tents and removed belongings in a move Our Place described as “traumatic.”

Daly says visits from bylaw officers are daily occurrences, but Thursday’s cleanup was starkly different from what they’re used to seeing.

Taylor is 23 and she’s lived on the streets for nine years, and she was there when officers a arrived.

“At first I thought it was just regular, because they do a lot of things where they say, ‘We’ll give you 20 minutes’ and it’s just a scare tactic so you’ll get your ass in gear,” she said.

But this time officers stayed until the job was done and the area was clear.

“I saw just how many officers came down and how many trucks and cleanup vehicles. They came in numbers we’ve never seen before,” said Daly. “That was not a normal day. That was not a routine operation.”

When asked about the scale of the dispersal on Thursday, Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto said it was not out of the ordinary.

“It is a difficult, difficult area to manage and I’m absolutely confident that our staff are doing the same job they do every day.”

READ PREVIOUS: Victoria mayor says ‘traumatic’ take down of tents on Pandora Ave not unusual

Daly’s reaction to those comments illustrates a gap in information somewhere.

“When I hear her say that I assume she’s been misinformed,” he said Friday.

As of Friday afternoon a handful of people had moved a block east up Pandora, while another camper had set up shelter south onto Vancouver Street. As to where the dozens of other people went, Taylor is at a loss.

“I’m not even sure at all. Like I said, there’s very few parks, and if they’re not there I have no idea where,” she said.

Our Place announced last week a commitment to individualized care to get the people sheltering on Pandora into housing by the end of the year, and Daly says the events of the last 48 hours makes that lofty goal more difficult.

“They’ve been scattered to the four corners of Victoria and we don’t know where they are. Connecting with them again will be quite difficult.”

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