'Office' at Victoria courthouse tent camp.

Tent city campers told to leave by Feb. 25

Victoria courthouse tent city campers told they must accept alternative housing or vacate

Roughly 80 campers who have called tent city outside the Victoria courthouse home for the past several months are being told they have to pack up and leave by the end of the month.

The province served tent city residents an injunction Friday morning, telling them they must vacate the premises by Thursday, Feb. 25.

The injunction comes on the heels of an announcement by Housing Minister Rich Coleman stating the province has bought the Mount Edwards Court Care Home at 1002 Vancouver St. for $3.65 million. There will be 38 units open to occupants of tent city “for approximately 12 months” for a rental fee of $375 a month.

Another 50 “shelter units” are to be opened at the Victoria Youth Custody Centre, with both to be open by Feb. 23. Occupants there will be provided with three meals a day and have the option of camping in the courtyard, which has space for about 20 tents, for up to six months.

The Mount Edwards proposal has sparked strong neighbourhood opposition, with residents refused information or input even as construction crews began renovating the ground floor. The building is across Rockland Avenue from the Christ Church Cathedral elementary and middle school, which like the surrounding area has been littered with needles, feces and trash since the tent camp sprang up next to the courthouse late last year.

Campers are to be offered on-site health care at Mount Edwards shelter, operated by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, which runs Victoria drop-in and housing services.

Neighbours have spoken out about the proposed long-term plan for Mount Edwards, to house up to 101 people in “low barrier” housing that tolerates alcohol and drug use. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps has said a permanent facility would require rezoning to go ahead.

A temporary shelter for roughly 40 campers also opened last month at the former Boys and Girls Club building on Yates Street, but is only open until the end of April.