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Homeless campers near Saanich municipal hall to move today

Tenters plan to move within Saanich, push bylaws
The Namegans Nation group of about 30 people are camped out next to Saanich Fire station and municipal hall along Highway 17. The group plans to move to an unknown location Wednesday. Travis Paterson/News Staff

The leader of a homeless camp near Saanich municipal hall says the camp will disband peacefully today, but re-appear later somewhere in Saanich.

Chrissy Brett, spokesperson for the group called Namegans Nations, said it is not yet clear where the 25 to 30 residents will wake up Thursday morning.

“We have three spots picked out, and we will have to see it,” said Brett, adding the camp will likely move to its new location by vehicle.

The three spots — which Brett refused to disclose — are parks near the current location, and the group plans to test the District’s chattel bylaw. It authorizes the “seizure, removal and disposition of chattels” — personal possessions — “from Saanich parks” as part of a prohibition against camping in parks during daylight hours. Saanich allows temporary overnight sheltering in 102 of its parks from the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.

RELATED: Saanich cracks down on camping in certain parks

On Monday, the camp received two notices to leave from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that manages the provincial land. “If you do not cease your occupation of the Lands, you will be trespassing pursuant to the Trespass Act. You are directed to immediately vacate the Lands. Failure to do so is an offence under the Trespass Act,” read the trespass notice.

RELATED: Campers near Saanich municipal hall await response from transportation ministry

The camp appeared at its current location Saturday afternoon, after police had forced them to leave the parking lot of Saanich municipal hall, following several stops in other locations along the way, including a rural Saanich property on West Saanich Road. The origin of the camp itself dates back to events in the spring, when many of the residents camping along the highway set up in Regina Park that eventually grew to house more than 100 people for several months over the summer.

READ MORE: Province says Saanich-owned land unsuitable for supportive housing

The current property — a narrow strip of land along one of the busiest highways in the province — belongs to the ministry of transportation and infrastructure and it was a month ago, when police broke up a similiar encampment on provincial land near the intersection of Carey Road and Ravine Way.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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