Royal Athletic Park is off the table as a shelter site for Victoria’s most vulnerable people.
The news came Wednesday during Victoria mayor Lisa Helps’ daily briefing on the municipality’s evolving response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Helps said a temporary sheltering model, implemented through a three-pronged partnership between the City, BC Housing and Island Health, will identify indoor sites and get people moved as soon as possible. She said the indoor sites will “better support social distancing and provide basic services such as food, washrooms, hygiene, health and harm reduction.”
“We’re going to do everything in our power, working together with Island Health and BC Housing to prevent an outbreak in the most vulnerable community,” Helps said. “That’s critically important, not just for those living on the street, but for our entire community if we’re going to flatten the curve and slow the pace of infection.”
Helps said those living outdoors on Pandora Street will be the first to be moved to the indoor sites. Topaz Park is currently acting as a shelter site for a number of people – she said they too will be moved to allocated indoor shelters.
Island Health expressed to the City that hotels and motels are the first priority for sheltering, followed by indoor congregates like community centres. Outdoor sheltering is at the bottom of the list, Helps said. She did not disclose where the indoor shelter sites would be.
Helps also reinforced messages from the provincial government to avoid gathering over the Easter long weekend. Coming straight from a meeting with the Capital Regional District, she urged people to stay within their own municipalities.
“I’d ask that you leave Dallas Road and Beacon Hill Park to Victoria residents,” she said. “I understand the need to get outdoors, we can go for those walks and do our part and keep social distances at the same time…Don’t’ congregate, don’t gather in groups, keep your distance and please be courteous of others.”
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