The roving protest camp in Willows Park Oct. 17. The district says shifting resources and a voucher mean no cash cost to the taxpayer so far as the protest hits its third site in Oak Bay. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Oak Bay keeps tent city taxpayer costs down by shifting resources

Voucher won at Union of BC Municipalities convention covers extra risk management contract

A trio of homeless camps set up in Oak Bay have yet to cost taxpayers thanks to shifting resources and a UBCM voucher.

”Right now we’ve really incurred very little cost,” said Warren Jones, director of corporate services for Oak Bay. ““We’ve used our existing staff and the police have used their existing staff.”

The roving protest camp, a collection of tents, moved from Saanich to behind municipal hall Oct. 10 then shifted a week later to Willows Beach. Both sites required cleanup. The camp is now set up in Uplands Park.

It does cause shifting of priorities for a short period of time, but Jones, whose office overlooks the first campsite behind municipal hall, says cleanup there took four to six hours.

Eight staff raked and cleaned and took a needle detector to the area.

“Out of an abundance of caution we hired a private firm to come in and do a secondary needle sweep using a similar device,” Jones said.

While he’s uncertain of they’re findings, “there certainly were, behind municipal hall the day they left, some needles found but they were part of a pile of garbage,” Jones said. “Our goal was just to make sure these sites are totally clean … the campers did a pretty good job of cleaning up after they left.”

The contractor used to do a secondary sweep of the area was covered by a voucher won during the Union of BC Municipalities in Vancouver last month. A council won the $2,500 voucher for risk management during a Municipal Insurance Association of BC session.

Cost is roughly $500 for each site.



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