Saanich police to surround homeless camp in Regina Park

Crews have started to put up fencing around homeless camp as deadline passed

Saanich work crews erected fencing Wednesday as local police established their presence around the homeless camp in Regina Park, one day after a court-imposed deadline came and went without any arrests.

RELATED: No arrests at Saanich’s homeless camp as Tuesday night deadline passes

Saanich’s Police and Fire Command Vehicle was seen at one of two entry points into the camp near the intersection of Harriet Road and Battleford Avenue.

As officers co-ordinated efforts on the ground, crews from the city of Saanich put up a fence part and parcel of a remediation effort.

Police were also present at the camp’s main entry point off Regina Avenue.

Under a court-issued ruling handed down last Friday, camp residents had until 7 p.m. on Sept. 11 to vacate the camp. Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said any residents found to be defying the court order would “likely” be arrested.

However, the deadline came and went with no arrests.

RELATED: Regina Park residents ponder passive resistance against Saanich

Camp residents had earlier raised the possibility of “passive resistance.” Saanich Police said in a release Wednesday that anyone remaining in Regina Park are currently violating the order.

“As this injunction is a lawful order, the Saanich Police Department is required by law to enforce this order,” said Sgt. Jereme Leslie, adding that Saanich police will remain on site until all occupants of Regina Park have decamped.

“We will continue to treat the vulnerable persons vacating the park with dignity and care through the decampment process,” Leslie said. “It is recognized that many of the occupants will require assistance to vacate the park and we are conducting a phased approach to supporting the occupants in complying with the injunction.”

Ashley Mollison of the Alliance Against Displacement reacted to developments Wednesday saying she was concerned about storage for the possessions of camp residents.

“While I don’t think the fence and the police presence is necessary, we were aware that the fence was going up this morning and that police would be on site,” she said. “Saanich has still not come through with the storage they promised the [B.C. Supreme Court].”

Megan Catalano, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich, said the city has been working with a service provider to arrange additional storage for larger valuable items, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

“Providing storage was not a term of the court order, but is a service which Saanich is providing voluntarily,” Catalano said.

“Saanich’s legal counsel advised the [court] that Saanich intended to provide this service by way of pre-paid 30-day storage with a local storage company,” she explained, adding efforts to co-ordinate this have been delayed.

Catalano expects larger storage containers to arrive Thursday.

Occupants who have received approval by the city of Saanich for receiving larger storage containers, will not have to leave the park until the storage container has been provided, she said.


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