‘This last year has been absolute hell’: Burnside Gorge residents outraged after province extends Travelodge lease

'This last year has been absolute hell': Burnside Gorge residents outraged after province extends Travelodge lease

Burnside Gorge residents were fuming Thursday after hearing that the Travelodge will remain as a temporary homeless shelter for the rest of 2021.

The lease was supposed to expire on March 31, but on Wednesday the B.C. government announced it would be extending the lease of the Travelodge on Gorge Road in Victoria until Dec. 31, 2021.

The government says the extension is in an effort to ensure existing residents don’t end up living on the street or in nearby parks during the cold weather.

The Province’s announcement is not sitting well with the strata council of the Treelane Estates, which is located directly behind the Travelodge.

“The news yesterday of the extension of having our neighbours for another year is totally selfish on behalf of the city, B.C. Housing and the Province,” said council member Judy Skidmore.

“For 32 years I’ve lived in this place and this last year has been absolute hell” added councillor Joan Chevrier.

Residents say they’ve endured thefts, threats of verbal and physical abuse, and claimed they’ve witnessed countless drug deals.

“We’ve had to spend $200,000 to fence our perimeter, install extra lighting, cameras and gates, which the city will not even help us with,” Skidmore said.

The 94 people living in the hotel were moved in by B.C. Housing last May after homeless encampments at Pandora Avenue and Topaz Park were cleared out.

“Everyone recognizes the urgent need for safe and secure homes for people experiencing homelessness in Victoria and throughout the Capital Regional District,” David Eby, the province’s Minister of Housing and attorney general, said in a statement.

While nearby residents are frustrated and concerned for their safety, homelessness advocates say sending them back out onto the streets would only make things worse.

“For a huge majority of folks that have moved into indoor spaces and been able to secure showers, food, privacy, a lot of personal and basic needs being met, that’s really helped to stabilize people who were literally living in survival mode,” said Executive Director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to end Homelessness Kelly Roth.

The Province says they’re on track to achieve their goal of providing everyone currently living outside in Victoria with 24/7 indoor shelter by March 31.

Ben NesbitBen Nesbit

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