The District of Saanich issued its second eviction notice against campers in Regina Park Thursday, but a camp leader says it is not likely that residents will comply with it.
Chrissy Brett said police officers, some in plain clothes, issued the notice around 10 a.m. A release from the District of Saanich says officers issued the notice with the “expectation of immediate compliance.” The notice cited changes to Saanich’s parks management and control bylaw. They codify the rights of homeless individuals to seek overnight shelters in certain parks including Regina Park between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. but prohibits continuous camping outside those hours.
Brett said these provisions deny basic human rights to shelter, adding that residents on the provincial part of the camp are prepared to challenge the order.
While Saanich had issued its first eviction notice on June 8, Thursday’s order takes on added meaning for at least three reasons.
First, it happened shortly after Saanich strengthened its own legal arguments by acknowledging the rights of homeless individuals to shelter overnight, while simultaneously exercising its authority to limit where they can camp.
Second, it can be read as the harbinger of a court injunction against the camp.
Brett, who was among the leaders of Victoria’s tent city, said this pattern was evident in that situation, and she thinks that this order is just Saanich’s way of setting the stage for that move.
District officials have previously refused to comment whether they plan to a court injunction against the camp, calling it an ongoing legal matter.
Brett hopes that the district remains committed to working with camp residents in keeping the camp safe and finding a housing solution.
Camp residents also received orders from fire officials June 8, June 15 and June 29.
The order came just hours before the camp is to hold a community barbecue to build public support. Saanich’s notice suggests that the camp should not get too comfortable.