Remediation work to transform the former tent city site on the lawns of the Victoria courthouse into a playground is expected to continue until next month.
Last Friday, remediation work began on the site along Burdett Avenue. The testing of soil samples determined the presence of residual contaminants, including lead, gasoline, diesel, and trace amounts of methamphetamine.
As part of the soil remediation, which will remove contaminants from the ground and restore the landscape, the top 1.5 feet of soil will be dug up, removed by truck and replaced with new top soil.
Trees, which have been identified by arborists as unlikely to survive the soil remediation, have also been torn down. Eleven trees were identified as healthy and will be preserved.
For about a year, more than 80 people lived on the lawns of the provincially-owned land. The camp quickly began to attract attention for the wrong reasons with nearby residents reporting needles, feces and garbage being left on their lawns, and the site becoming a hotbed for illegal and gang activity.
In August, a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted the province an injunction to remove the campers on the grounds the site was unsafe. Many residents have since transitioned into a number of housing facilities the province purchased.
The idea of having a playground on the site emerged last year, following government discussions with residents in the area.
Remediation of the soil is expected to continue until February, while a finalized redevelopment plan for the site will be completed in the coming weeks. The playground is scheduled to be ready for use by spring.