A roaming tent city that has occupied many parks in Capital Regional District municipalities has come to North Saanich.
The collection of tents popped up at Dominion Brook Park over the weekend, is sited at the entrance to the park along East Saanich Road, across from Panorama Recreation Centre and next to the Center for Plant Health. A collection of signs outlines why the tent city is there.
The roving camp, led by Chrissy Brett, has been traveling to various municipalities since mid-September, when they first set up in Topaz Park in Victoria. Brett has been involved with a variety of public demonstrations, including the tent city by the Victoria court house and another in Duncan, all to protest a shortage of affordable housing and resources for people experiencing homelessness or addiction issues.
The camp had been in Central Saanich most recently, setting up first at Saanichton Green Park and then at Pioneer Park in Brentwood Bay.
North Saanich officials are accommodating the camp, in much the same way as their neighbouring municipalities.
District of North Saanich Chief Administrative Officer Rob Buchan says they were aware the camp was coming and have been working with the RCMP to monitor the camp. As well, Buchan said the District has provided a sharps bin (for discarded needles), garbage pickup and a portable toilet. He said that was done as a matter of public safety and health. He added similar services have been provided to the camps from other municipalities.
“Protesting is a right in Canada,” Buchan continued. “And we’re working with our community partners to accommodate the protesters.”
In an earlier interview with the PNR, Brett said she has told local government officials there were homeless people from all municipalities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, being pushed to Victoria’s downtown core where there are more shelters and services for the homeless. She wants other municipalities to shoulder more of the burden by building facilities themselves or funding more housing or programs in Victoria if they cannot.
“To me, it makes more sense for the municipalities to sit down with each other and create a capital regional district housing plan,” said Brett.
She said solutions could be tailored to the context of the municipality. As an example, she said Langford could create Indigenous housing and Sidney and Oak Bay could house low-income seniors.
— with files from Hugo Wong/News Staff