Camp Namegans tent city at Regina Park. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Advocate expects Saanich to allow tents to return to Regina Park once hazards removed

Court case on Regina Park homeless camp expected to wrap up this week

The legal fate of the homeless camp in Regina Park known as Camp Namegans will likely remain up in the air for several more days as a B.C. Supreme Court hearing is expected to wrap up Friday.

Ashley Mollison with the Alliance Against Displacement does not expect a ruling Friday following the conclusion of testimony from the various parties, suggesting the judge will render a verdict sometime in September.

According to various sources, including Mollison, Saanich plans to disperse the campers for two to three weeks during which staff would remove hazardous materials, mow the lawn, and put down eight to 12 inches of wood chips.

Once deemed fire safe, Saanich would then allow residents to seek overnight shelter, while prohibiting camping during the day.

Camp leader Chrissy Brett has questioned this plan.

“We are concerned that the wood chips would be a greater fire risk than the considerably smaller amount of combustible material that is currently at Regina Park,” she said.

Camp leaders have also argued that dispersing the camp residents would expose them to greater dangers, a claim that Saanich’s lawyer Jeff Locke challenged. He also pointed out that Saanich has worked with the province to provide housing.

Both the District of Saanich and the Province of British Columbia have asked the court to shut down the camp near Uptown along the Trans-Canada Highway. Organizers say more than 100 people now live in the camp, which has been the subject of considerable public interest and controversy.

Various reports of testimony so far have left the impression of Saanich being on the defensive and at times unsure about its rationale for shutting down the camp.

While Saanich Fire Chief Mike Burgess warned of a “catastrophic” fire if the camp were to remain in its current form, Saanich’s lawyer said the municipality’s application for an injunction is not about fire safety per se.

Locke instead spoke about upholding the “dignity” of “constitutional bylaws,” including presumably the recently passed prohibition against overnight camping and other measures.

According to reports, Locke also emphasized that Saanich’s request for an injunction should not be read as evidence of discrimination or bias against the residents in countering the narrative from camp leaders that the injunction is part and parcel of a larger co-ordinated efforts with other communities in Nanaimo and Maple Ridge to criminalize homelessness.

Locke also noted that Saanich has set up portable toilets at the park and erected a hygiene facility with showers and washrooms at Municipal Hall.

Saanich officials and representatives made their case during the first three days of testimony. Submissions from the provincial government and camp leaders followed.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Head of Victoria homebuilders says provincial budget won’t solve housing crisis

Casey Edge of Victoria Residential Builders Association dismisses more modular housing as a band-aid

Study moves Oak Bay closer to contraceptive control for problem deer

The report says between 78 and 128 black tail deer live in the affluent beach-side community

Two missing Victoria children found safe

VicPD responded to two separate missing children calls Tuesday

Chim Chim Cher‑ee! Mary Poppins is coming to Oak Bay High

Mary Poppins opens Friday, Feb. 22, at the Dave Dunnet theatre

Crews repair damage after Tuesday night water main break in Langford

Flooding resulted in property damage, forced evacuation from Langford homes

VIDEO: Massive elk herd runs across Washington State highway

Elk have been making an appearance in the Pacific Northwest

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

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

Winter storm freezes U.S., halts air travel

Storm dumps snow or heavy rain, snarls travel in much of U.S.

Gwyneth Paltrow: Skier sued me to exploit my fame, wealth

The incident happened in Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Experts urge caution after 10 human-triggered avalanches across B.C.

One man is still stuck after avalanche on south coast

Police seize bottles of grapefruit vodka from wanted man’s snow-pants

The men were pushing two shopping carts with a woman inside

Most Read