Tent camp grows rapidly on Pandora Avenue in Victoria after drop-in centres closed due to COVID-19, March 26, 2020. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Tent camp grows rapidly on Pandora Avenue in Victoria after drop-in centres closed due to COVID-19, March 26, 2020. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Stop passing the buck on tent camps, Horgan tells municipalities

Victoria, other cities advised to enforce their own bylaws

Local governments need to do their part to deal with tent camps and providing housing alternatives for people living outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier John Horgan says.

Horgan was asked about the ongoing conflict between campers and residents around Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, which along with Vancouver has received most of the media attention and money to buy hotels with food and other services for transients. Victoria council has declined to enforce its anti-camping bylaw due to COVID-19, which Horgan said is a mistake, and Mayor Lisa Helps has demanded the province buy more hotels after millions have already been spent to do that in the two cities.

“I appeal to the city of Victoria to step up with some genuine ideas, rather than just turning to other orders of government,” Horgan told reporters at a student housing announcement at the University of Victoria July 27. “There is a bylaw in place that says you can’t camp during the day, you have to fold up your camp in the morning. Victoria has chosen not to enforce that because they believe that in a pandemic, that would be ill-advised. I disagree with that, but that’s not my responsibility. The city is responsible for their bylaws and they can and should manage them.”

He said there are ongoing discussions with the federal government on pressing housing issues, and there are other places that need help.

“It’s not just Victoria and Vancouver where there are challenges with homelessness – Nanaimo, Smithers, Kamloops, Kelowna, right across the province,” Horgan said. “It’s in rural British Columbia as well, and we all have to work together as a community to find these solutions. And that means working to accelerate zoning issues in municipalities so we can build modular housing and not-for-profit housing, and make sure that we’re putting wraparound services with those units, so that that people who have mental health and addiction challenges can get the help that they need.”

RELATED: Province buys hotels, orders city camps shut down

RELATED: Petition demands Victoria ‘save Beacon Hill Park’

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson noted recently that urban tent camps often have a protest function where people who are already housed come out to demand more housing.

Another protest has derailed the province’s move to allow temporary hospital detention of young people treated for street drug overdoses for up to a week. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy confirmed July 27 that legislation to allow it has been withdrawn, as the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs were staging a Vancouver news conference to denounce it.

“What we’ve been proposing is based on a pilot at B.C. Children’s Hospital and is very different than what the opposition has talked about, or what exists in places like Alberta,” Darcy said in a statement.

The ministry worked with the First Nations Health Council, First Nations Health Authority, Métis Nation B.C., First Nations Health Directors Association and the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society to develop the amendments.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturehomeless housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich council supports mayor’s call to reinstate non-police security for mental health patients at hospitals

Saanich police spent nearly 1,200 hours waiting with patients at hospitals in 2020

It’s time to upgrade Metchosin’s connectivity, some residents are saying. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
Petition signals desire for Metchosin cellphone coverage

It’s crazy for a Victoria suburb to be a dead-cell zone, petition writer said

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, development agent for cannabis supplier Seed and Stone’s, holds products from the new Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read