Most tent city residents happy to be moving on

Every day, twice a day, Al Tysick is at Victoria’s tent city, listening to the camper’s concerns and assisting in whatever way possible.

Every day, twice a day, Al Tysick is at Victoria’s tent city, listening to the camper’s concerns and assisting in whatever way possible.

For many residents, the 69-year-old who’ll be celebrating his 70th birthday on Friday, is like a father. But now his days at the homeless camp on the lawns of the Victoria courthouse are numbered as the province gets ready to shut it down next month and move residents into various forms of housing.

So far, Tysick estimates 25 people have recently moved out of the camp, but 65 are still there, waiting for their turn to leave. The majority, he said, are happy to be moving on, but some won’t go without a fight.

“There’s going to be some that stay and resist. There always is,” said Tysick, executive director of the Dandelion Society, which advocates for some of Victoria’s most difficult to house. “Much more housing has come to the city, which we desperately needed, but some wanted a place just to camp and they didn’t get that….Some people will have to be forced to leave, but it won’t certainly be the majority of people.”

Earlier this month, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ordered the camp be shut down by Aug. 8, after he deemed it unsafe for residents, nearby neighbours and businesses.

The province’s first application for an injunction to remove the campers last spring was denied on the grounds there wasn’t anywhere else for them to go.

Since then, the province has committed to opening a number of facilities to help house the campers.

Last month, it purchased the former Super 8 Hotel on Douglas Street to house 51 people and the former Central Care Home building on Johnson Street, which will provide more than 140 additional housing units. Another three buildings have been transformed into transitional housing and shelter space since the beginning of the year.

Earlier this week, the province placed a fence around the camp in order to prevent more people from moving in. Residents moving into the new housing must provide photo ID or agree to be photographed and identify which tents and objects belong to them.

Tysick is thankful for the support tent city residents have received thus far, but he believes once the camp finally does close, some people will go back to sleeping in city parks, where they’ll be woken by police every morning and told to leave in order to comply with bylaws that only allow sheltering between certain times.

The city, however, recently banned overnight sheltering in Haegert, Kings, Cridge and Arbutus parks following years of ongoing concerns from neighbours about the campers. Mary, who did not want to publish her last name, has lived next door to Kings Park for several years and became scared to go into her backyard.

During the summer months, between 12 to 14 tents were regularly set up in the tiny park, located on Caledonia Avenue between Cook and Chambers Streets. Last summer, neighbours had a spill over of people sleeping, injecting and defecating on private property or rummaging through garbage bins and blue boxes, searching for cash-convertible items. Some evenings were filled with drug deals, yelling, screaming, threats of bodily harm, exacerbated by drinking or someone having a mental melt down.

The bulk of the problems disappeared when tent city sprung to life, but Mary still sees drug users in the park and noticed a few people recently spent the night in sleeping bags.

Now that the tents have disappeared, Fernwood residents have started to return to Kings Park, but Mary isn’t holding her breath the problems will ever go away, especially once tent city is shut down.

“I am sure they will try (to return) because a certain percentage of them will not want to be indoors,” she said. “I was hugely happy when they all moved. We had three years of craziness here. I was really disgusted that I had to deal with this. It’s been going on for years and years up here and nobody cared.”

On Tuesday, B.C. Housing will be holding a public information session on supportive housing units at the former Central Care Home. Representatives from the city, police, B.C. Housing and health authority will be on hand to answer questions. The session takes place at the Victoria Conference Centre from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

 

 

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

Just Posted

This property, at 1980 Fairfield Place, is adjoined to Gonzales Hill Park and is the centre of community opposition and a B.C. Supreme Court case as owners are looking to build a single-family home on the lot. Jake Romphf/News Staff
Home construction near Victoria’s Gonzales Hill Park spurs legal battle

Gonzales Hill Preservation Society worried about impacts to the park’s wildlife, rare fauna, views

A man with a history of sexual offences was arrested after he followed and aggressively tried to talk to two young woman on the weekend. Black Press File Photo
Man convicted of sexual offences arrested after teens followed in Victoria

Women hid in a Quadra Village convenience store as man aggressively tried to get in

Traffic heading south on Highway 17 and looking to turn left onto Beacon Avenue wait for the light to turn Tuesday morning. A report finds the intersection is experiencing “failing levels of service” for certain movements during the morning peak hours as well as the afternoon peak hours. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Major Sidney intersection already deficient predicted to get worse

New report also finds area’s pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in need of improvement

Best of the City 2019 (Sergej Krivenko photo)
Voting opens for Victoria’s annual Best of the City

Annual awards mark 27th year in Greater Victoria

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

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 April 13

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

Legendary broadcaster Bernie Pascall is among in the Class of 2021 to be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (PQB News file photo)
Island broadcasting legend Bernie Pascall named to CFL Hall of Fame

Pascall named by Football Reporters of Canada as inductee in the 2021 class in the media category

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Most Read