A group of homeless people living near Highway 17 in Saanich are bracing themselves for police action after officials with the ministry of transportation delivered them both a notice of unauthorized occupation and a trespass notice Monday afternoon.
Chrissy Brett, a spokesperson for the camp, said no police are currently on site. She described the mood as “not bad but apprehensive.”
She made these comments Tuesday morning after the camp had received the two notices Monday afternoon.
“If you do not cease your occupation of the Lands, you will be trespassing pursuant to the Trespass Act. You are directed to immediately vacate the Lands. Failure to do so is an offence under the Trespass Act,” read the trespass notice.
The Ministry of Transportation delivered both a notice of unauthorized occupation and a trespass notice, which means that police can move in and dismantle the camp anytime from now on. pic.twitter.com/I4ZQ7601SS
— Against Displacement (@stopdisplacemnt) October 15, 2018
The Alliance Against Displacement later tweeted that these notices give police the authority to move to “move in and dismantle the camp anytime from now on.
But Tuesday morning broke without any visible police presence near the small camp along Highway 17 near Saanich Municipal Hall.
The camp appeared at its currrent location Saturday afternoon, after police had forced them to leave the parking lot of Saanich Municipal Hall, following several stops in other locations along the way, including a rural Saanich property on West Saanich. The origin of the camp itself dates back to events in the spring, when many of the residents camping along the highway set up a camp in Regina Park that eventually grew to house more than 100 people for several months over the summer.
The property — a narrow strip of land along one of the busiest highways in the province — belongs to the ministry of transportation and infrastructure and it was almost exactly a month ago, when police broke up a similiar encampment on provincial land near the intersection of Carey Road and Ravine Way.
Local police at the time moved to disband in the morning hours of Sept. 17 with assistance from Victoria and Oak Bay police departments. That action caused considerable delays during morning rush hour traffic in the Greater Victoria, but traffic was flowing smoothly Tuesday morning.
“I don’t have any updates on the encampment today,” said Sgt. Jereme Leslie of Saanich Police, when asked about the possibility that Saanich Police will remove the campers this morning.