Police costs for tent city reaches more than $140,000

Victoria police have spent more than $140,000 in order to keep residents of tent city and those in the surrounding areas safe.

Victoria police have spent more than $140,000 in order to keep residents of tent city and those in the surrounding areas safe over the past few months, according to the police department’s acting chief.

Since May, police deployed more officers to monitor the site and the three blocks surrounding it. Additionally, other officers have been deployed on site in 12-hour shifts.

According to acting police chief Del Manak, at first, the increased police presence was met with resistance by some living at the tent city on Burdett Avenue, adding the encampment was attracting gang associates that preyed on residents.

However, since then, police have formed a relationship both with tent city residents and residents in the surrounding area, most of whom feel more comfortable with law enforcement watching over them. Gang activity has also decreased significantly.

“The perception of safety for occupants has significantly increased. Violence has gone down and safety has increased significantly. Having officers has been advantageous on many levels,” Manak told city council during a Thursday meeting.

“The demographic has shifted in the sense that a lot of the people that were there for drug dealing have left the site because they know there’s a strong police presence there . . . There has been a sense of calmness as a result of us being there.”

In the months officers have been monitoring the site, police took a few suspects into custody who had outstanding warrants, prevented assaults, and helped perform CPR on a person suffering a drug overdose.

In May, Victoria city council approved a $113,000 budget increase for police to have additional officers monitor the site. Of that, police have used $50,400. Officers deployed on site have come at a cost of $91,000 out of the police’s budget, so far.

Manak said the department is in discussions with the provincial government to potentially foot a portion of the bill.

Earlier this month, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson granted the province’s request for an injunction to remove the roughly 80 campers on the grounds the site is unsafe.

With tent city expected to come to a close on Aug. 8, Coun. Ben Isitt said the last few months have shown that a designated tenting area for the city’s homeless would be more beneficial than dispersing them back into city parks.

“It’s a way to manage outdoor sheltering in a way that’s safe for the people sleeping there and the broader community,” said Isitt, adding the chief justice saw the benefits of a tent city. “I think we need to turn the page on an outdated approach to street issues and realize that when you have an inter-agency approach with fire safety provisions and police in place, it’s far preferable to the head in the sand approach that does a disservice to people.”

However, Coun. Geoff Young disagreed, noting it’s not a sustainable model and is in “defiance of all facts and experience that we’ve received.”

“The fact is the tent city, by its very nature, by the fact of its permanence, creates problems that are difficult to address,” he said. “Reallocating funds to temporary shelters or permanent housing is a far better use of resources and this kind of approach is not one we should try and continue.”

 

 

 

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

Just Posted

Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $10.25 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $8.65 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
The five most expensive homes for sale in Greater Victoria

A roundup of luxury estates currently on the market

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death of North Saanich likely first in B.C. for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Jimmy Fallon joked that a woman’s 4.5-star review of a Langford jail is “the most Canadian thing you could do” in The Tonight Show Jan. 21. (Screenshot/YouTube)
VIDEO: Jimmy Fallon jokes Canadian jails are basically hotels following woman’s 4.5-star review

Woman gave handwritten card to police following stay in Langford cells

Sidney's Beacon Wharf
Pontoon company piqued at prospect of public-private partnership around Sidney wharf

Seagate approached to submit proposeal for public-private partnership

Following a cease work order from the District of Highlands in October, the BC Supreme Court ruled Jan. 20. that bylaws won’t apply to O.K. Industries’ work until its quarrying activity is complete. (Courtesy of District of Highlands)
BC Supreme Court rules Highlands quarry work can continue

District bylaws won’t apply until quarrying activities are complete

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read