Victoria council could soon ban around-the-clock camping in parks

Victoria council could soon ban around-the-clock camping in parks
WatchSince the pandemic began, homeless encampments have steadily grown in public parks around Victoria. City officials estimate that as many as 270 people are currently calling a park home. But as Ben Nesbit reports, changes could be on the horizon.

Victoria City Council will be presented with a plan this week that would put an end to around-the-clock camping in city parks by March 31, 2021.

Mayor Lisa Helps and Councilor Jeremy Loveday will put forth a motion that would help get the estimated 250-270 people currently sheltering outside into safe housing.

Council decided to allow campers to continue living in parks earlier this year as housing became less and less available due to the pandemic, but now the hope is to get them inside.

“We want people inside, we don’t want people living in parks in the middle of a global health pandemic and we want to return to parks for the general use of the public,” said Helps.

Helps adds that they’ll be banking on significant government assistance.

“We need to do everything we can, working with the provincial government. The City isn’t responsible for housing, but we’re going to do our part,” said Helps.

The motion includes six recommendations including:

  • The city would use some of the $6.5 million recently handed down from the federal government
  • It would press the province to build modular housing on two recently purchased sites on Yates and Meares Street
  • It would ask the province to re-visit the site at Oak Bay Lodge as a possible housing location, even though the Capital Regional District recently voted against using it as a homeless shelter

The City is also working with the Community Wellness Alliance convened by the City and Island Health to help co-ordinate the decampment process and continue moving people indoors after the province’s initial work in April and May. Their goal is to have 200 of the 250 people inside by Dec. 31.

That will be covered by 24 units for treatment available at Our Place’s Therapeutic Recovery Community in View Royal, 110 rent subsidies provided by Island Health and B.C. Housing, and 60 units opening in November in Langford and View Royal as part of the Regional Housing First Program.

The motion will be presented on Nov. 12.



Ben NesbitBen Nesbit

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