Tent city campers have to leave Regina Park but area shelters are full

Tent city campers have to leave Regina Park but area shelters are full

WATCH: Only four of the more than 100 campers at tent city in Saanich have been housed leaving the rest with few places to go as a court order comes into effect. April Lawrence reports.

Lynne Hibak has packed her bags but she has nowhere to go once a court order comes into effect forcing her and her group of friends out of Regina Park in Saanich.

“I am really really worried because you know this has never happened to me before so things are all stressing me, getting me panicking,” she said.

Hibak is one of more than 100 tent city campers who don’t know where they will go once the park is closed.

“I’ll go to an all-night restaurant and sit up and drink coffee and then be wide awake for the morning,” said 63-year-old camper Geoff Green.

A Supreme Court order requiring campers to move out of Regina Park comes into effect Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Saanich Police say they are required to enforce the order but will attempt all reasonable measures to achieve voluntary compliance before enforcement action is taken.

“We’re going to do our best to help those out that are in need and those that are defiant I think they’ll likely to be arrested, it’s not the time anymore for political protest, it’s time to obey the courts,” said Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell.

But progress to vacate the park is slow, likely because there is nowhere else for people to go.

“The shelters are full, all the shelters are full,” said Our Place Society Executive Director Don Evans. “We’re trying to look after some vulnerable women and use some emergency mats at First Metropolitan Church but really there’s just nowhere, there’s no shelter available,” he said.

Only four of the roughly 115 campers have been connected with housing.

Willie Harry and his son are two of them.

“I got told about two hours ago I got a house or apartment in James Bay,” said Harry.

Harry, who has lived at the encampment since it started four months ago, says it’s bittersweet.

“Good and bad because you know, everybody isn’t getting help, not getting help like we should all get help,” he said.

Saanich says it is looking into building modular housing and Our Place Society is asking for provincial funding to open a new shelter in time for winter.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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