If the residents of the downtown Victoria tent camp haven’t complied with a fire safety order by May 25, the province will go back to court for an order to remove it, Housing Minister Rich Coleman says.
The B.C. Fire Commissioner inspected the courthouse camp in early May and found that the crowded collection of tents and structures is a fire hazard to people and other property. Coleman said enforcing that order is what the province needs to return to B.C. Supreme Court, which rejected an earlier application for an injunction to clear the camp.
“The fire protection order for life and safety is critical for us to be able to go back to court,” Coleman said. “At the same time we would introduce the crime stats to the court to get the ability to act.”
One reason for the earlier injunction rejection was the lack of alternative shelter. Coleman said the province has now provided 180 spaces, including rooms at the former Mount Edwards nursing home and subsidized rental accommodation.
He said the ministry started with a plan to house 60 people at the camp who claimed they were homeless.
“One thing they won’t be able to say is that they have nowhere to go, because we’ve provided a bed for every one of them,” Coleman said. “We’ve actually housed this camp three times over.”