Chrissy Brett leads the peaceful protest, a nomadic group of homeless tenters who moved into Cadboro-Gyro Park on Halloween. It’s the group’s ninth week since first assembling at Beacon Hill Park. Travis Paterson/News Staff Chrissy Brett leads the peaceful protest, a nomadic group of homeless tenters who moved into Cadboro-Gyro Park on Halloween. It’s the group’s ninth week since first assembling at Beacon Hill Park. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Nomadic tent city moves into Caddy Bay

Homeless tenters seek ‘basic human rights’

Chased from Oak Bay, the nomadic tent city led by Chrissy Brett and has returned to Saanich.

The group is in its ninth week and currently totals about eight people bunked in Cadboro-Gyro Park.

After three weeks in Oak Bay Brett said the relationship with Oak Bay Police had run its course. The group moved through Oak Bay’s downtown to Willows Beach park and then to Uplands Park, where it vacated on Halloween. It was a somewhat controversial departure for what’s meant to be a peaceful protest.

Brett said reports of vandalism at their last site, Uplands Park, were overblown after Oak Bay complained it might have to pay $1,500 for a “tribute bench” that was “spray painted.” What was actually painted was the feet of the weathered and aging bench, said Brett, which one of the campers took upon himself to sand and restore, albeit without permission from Oak Bay Parks.

It’s yet another instance of the community overlooking the group for what it is, a moving prayer vigil that calls for basic human rights.

“Needles and defecation seems to be all the media and community want to focus on,” Brett said. “Are a couple needles our biggest problem? Why isn’t the general public concerned about how 1,387 homeless people across Greater Victoria are without basic human rights. If we were refugees we’d have basic [amenities] that homeless people don’t have.”

(The number 1,387 comes from the Greater Victoria Point In Time homeless count of February, 2016.)

So far, the response to the tent city from visitors to Cadboro-Gyro Park, at least those who interact with Brett, is positive, she said. A representative from Cadboro Bay Residents Association visited to welcome them.

To talk with Brett is to enter into a political discussion (you’ll need time to talk to her if you’re going to).

Saanich Police’s Community Engagement division has been fair to the group, helping to arrange a portable outhouse when the group tented at Hampton Park last month, and act as a de-facto liaison for the community at large.

“We anticipate no problems,” said Saanich Sgt. Andy Stuart of Saanich Police’s Community Engagement. “In my experience [Brett] doesn’t want negative press. We had no issues when they were at Gorge and Hampton, I’m not concerned with them at Cadboro Bay.”

What Brett hopes to secure through a conversation with the province is a section of fenced in provincial land with electricity, running water, toilets and showers.

“We all qualify for $375 towards basic rent assistance if we have an address,” Brett said. “Why not put each person’s $375 towards [the amenities] of a safe location.

“We’re not a sober group but we provide support for people who are overlooked and wouldn’t get otherwise.”

The group expect to move out by Nov. 6 but haven’t said where it will head.

There are a few regular visitors who provide various supports to the tent city group. They range from mental health outreach programs to Saanich Police.

“We try to help them,” Stuart said. “[At Gorge] we left the washrooms open 24-hours, checked them daily and no issues, no needles, no mess, in case that’s people are worried about that.”

Stuart, who regularly managers campers in Saanich parks, particularly Cuthbert Holmes, said he’s received emails from the public worried about the tent city group regarding needles and drug paraphernalia.

“The reality is Saanich Parks staff find capped needles in parks all over, so to say that this [group] is the only people doing that is inaccurate. We’re going to hold them to the seven days, but not holding them to a line in the sand.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

A group of homeless tenters moved into Cadboro-Gyro Park on Halloween. It’s the group’s ninth week since first assembling at Beacon Hill Park. Travis Paterson/News Staff

A group of homeless tenters moved into Cadboro-Gyro Park on Halloween. It’s the group’s ninth week since first assembling at Beacon Hill Park. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Just Posted

Meet Your Candidates: Learn more about the Esquimalt council candidates

We asked candidates what changes they would make in the municipality

BC SPCA sees successful weekend from adoption sales

On Saturday animal shelters across the province reduced their adoption fees

Afternoon collision launches vehicle through downtown Victoria business

Two female drivers and staff of CEV Victoria uninjured, but visibly shaken

West Shore RCMP tape off Langford law office sent suspicious substance last month

No confirmation as to why police were back at Hemminger Law Group Monday afternoon

Two drivers crash through Victoria homes in two weeks

VicPD say alcohol is believed to a factor in both incidents

Campers near Saanich municipal hall await response from transportation ministry

MOTI expected to decide Monday when campers need to leave

Advance voting begins Oct. 10 in Greater Victoria

The polls open at 8 a.m. for the 2018 municipal election with the general election taking place Oct. 20

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

Most Read