Council eyes more money for housing

Victoria city council is considering alternative housing options for homeless people

Microhousing and temporary shelter will be considered in the City of Victoria as potential solutions to homelessness and people sleeping in city parks.

This Thursday, council will also consider quadrupling the city’s 2015 contribution to affordable housing from $250,000 to $1 million, with additional funds provided from the 2014 surplus and earmarked in the housing reserve for the creation of new interim and permanent housing supports.

Council will also discuss amending the parks bylaw to include Haegert Park, Cridge Park, Kings Park and Arbutus Park on the list of parks where it is prohibited to take shelter overnight.

City staff and Victoria police observed a noticeable increase in overnight sheltering activities in parks and green spaces in 2014, stated a staff report to council.

In 2009, the Court of Appeal confirmed that homeless people have a constitutional right to erect temporary shelters in a park if there are no available shelter beds. The city amended the parks regulation bylaw to allow homeless people to erect, use or maintain a structure of other overhead shelter in a park between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. the next day if there are no available shelter beds.

Due to safety issues and the unpredictability of the people sleeping in city parks, police officers are tasked with waking people up in the morning and asking them to move along.

Insp. Scott McGregor said police spend an inordinate amount of time doing this every morning. He said over $400,000 worth of police time is being redirected to this activity.

“The reason it’s the police and bylaw officers that are doing this is because there’s no one else that can go out and do it.”

Coun. Jeremy Loveday said instead of using police resources, the city should have social workers or other customer service experts waking them up in the morning.

Young suggested looking into the possibility of enforcing camping bylaws for people who are not homeless, and directing them to available shelters.

McGregor said an issue is the lack of available shelter beds.

“We’ve not actually been to a place where we’ve had available beds that we can reference people to,” he said, adding he stayed closely on top of this issue last summer, keeping in contact with shelter and housing providers. “They consistently were operating at 118 per cent from May straight through until almost October. Then in October with the increased beds and mats available, they’re operating at around 112 per cent, which is where they are at right now.”

Campers taking advantage of the park bylaw are not a big issue, added McGregor.

Council reaffirmed the city’s commitment to a housing first strategy to deal with homelessness and agreed to lobby the provincial and federal governments for funding.

As a housing alternative, Coun. Ben Isitt recommended the city look into options for increasing the supply of temporary shelter and housing in the city, including microhousing.

Council, with the exception of Coun. Geoff Young, passed this motion.

“Providing permanent housing that does not have the required supports will fail,” said Young. “You are dealing with a healthcare issue.”

Many people sleeping in parks have mental health or substance abuse issues, said the staff report.

“Unless you are prepared to deal with those, disorder is inevitable,” said Young.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria city council unanimously voted Jan. 21 to develop a one-time relief fund for businesses hit by vandalism. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
City offers relief funds for Victoria businesses hit by vandalism

Limited relief fund will come from 2021 contingency budget

James Summer, the City of Victoria’s new youth poet laureate. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Slam poetry expert introduced as Victoria’s new youth poet laureate

Vic High alum James Summer will serve in the role for 2021

A seller on UsedVictoria.com has listed signed, first editions of the first three Game of Thrones books. (UsedVictoria.com)
Winter is coming: 1st edition, signed Game of Thrones books for sale in Greater Victoria

Three signed Game of Thrones books listed on Used Victoria for $6,000

(Pxhere)
Mill Bay nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Saanich police are investigating property damage at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police seek info after fence torn down, dumped over embankment in Saanich

Christmas Hill restoration site fence destroyed sometime between Jan. 16 and 18

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns after searing report into workplace culture: reports

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

RCMP officers provide policing for 63 B.C. municipalities under a provincial formula based on population. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. communities warned of upcoming RCMP unionization costs

Starting salaries for city police officers are 30% higher

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
After donating his kidney, Abbotsford hotdog king starts donor campaign

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

Most Read