Temporary shelters at capacity as province seeks to evict campers

Two of the three temporary shelters opened to help tent city residents are already at capacity.

With a number of people still living on the lawn of the Victoria courthouse, two of the three temporary shelters opened to help tent city residents are already at capacity.

The province-owned shelter at Mount Edwards Court on Vancouver Street, operated by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, has 38 spaces — all of which were filled within the first three days.

Spokesperson Alan Rycroft said operations have been running smoothly since the shelter opened its doors with no concerns raised from the neighbourhood.

But there could be changes coming.

Last week, the province announced plans to keep the Mount Edwards shelter open long-term.

“We have committed, the city has committed and the province has committed to a rezoning process . . . before there’s any change in the use of the site,” Rycroft said. “So for the next year, it will be 38 people and any change to that will go through a public rezoning.”

At the Victoria Youth Custody Centre in View Royal, 24 of the 50 spaces are occupied.

Currently, residents are living in tents outside in the shelter’s courtyard while Our Place Society, which operates the shelter, completed safety upgrades such as changing the locks and installing smoke detectors.

The society expects more people will be moving in this week. Our Place spokesperson Grant McKenzie said they will be adding residents gradually.

“We want to make sure that everybody fits with everybody else. It’s a really vulnerable population and we really want to make sure we can build a community there,” he said.

“A lot of people coming in are quite sick. Living outside can be quite difficult on your body.”

My Place, formerly the Boys and Girls Club on Yates Street, is also at its 40-person capacity and has been since it opened at the beginning of the year. Half a dozen My Place residents have moved on to acquire permanent housing, while new people continue to move in.

Despite three new temporary shelters opening within the last few months, there are still a number of people living at tent city on Burdett Avenue.

McKenzie couldn’t specify how many people were left living there, but said some residents are still there to protest the government’s lack of permanent housing solutions.

Last week, the province filed a court order to evict the remaining homeless campers from tent city. The government hopes to get a ruling on the injunction application this week.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman said it will cost approximately $350,000 to fix the damage done to the land.