Government officials continue to discuss options for dealing with a growing homeless camp that’s sprung up at the Victoria courthouse.

Government officials continue to discuss options for dealing with a growing homeless camp that’s sprung up at the Victoria courthouse.

Tent city not going away any time soon

What to do with the 40-plus tents now pitched on the grass beside the Victoria courthouse won’t be decided any time soon.

What to do with the 40-plus tents now pitched on the grass beside the Victoria courthouse won’t be decided any time soon.

“It’s a delicate issue that we want to do well,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “What will happen if the province goes in there and gets an injunction and makes people move out, they are going to move back to Kings Park, they are going to move back to Haggart Park.”

The patch of green space along Burdett Avenue is owned by the province, therefore police need a request to remove campers. For city parks, bylaws only allow sheltering between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.

With no police forcing campers to pack up and leave every morning, the green space is growing popular among the homeless. One man who used to shelter at Kings Park said he’s hit the jackpot with the courthouse location.

Helps said so far the campers have been “pretty orderly,” but the city has received complaints from those living nearby. The timing of the matter, however, is in the province’s hands, but the city is working with government officials to see if there’s somewhere the campers can be moved.

“Those conversations take time,” she said. “Our staff are meeting every day with provincial staff to try and find solutions.”

So far the province hasn’t said much about the growing tent city, only releasing short statements that said officials are in talks with the city to discuss potential solutions.

Meanwhile, those living nearby are fed up dealing with what they say has been an increase in thefts, dirty needles and damage to property. Every time there’s a few more tents, Don Allen said something else happens in the neighbourhood. As of last week, two tenants in the building he manages gave their notice and Allen has had to install bars on the windows of two suites.

Victoria police have been responding to public inquiries about the matter on Twitter and took to the social media site again on Thursday. In one tweet, police said from Nov. 1 to 26 officers have attended 34 calls for service in a one-block radius of the courthouse. Of those calls, only five can be attributed to the courthouse and pertain to unwanted camping.

“There has not been a signifiant increase in property crime or violent crime in that one block radius,” said police on Twitter.

“There has been one reported break-and-enter in the area this year in that one block radius…We can’t respond to what you don’t report.”

Police have noticed there’s been less homeless camping in the city parks they enforce, but that could be due to more people staying at shelters due to the colder temperatures as of late. Aside from a few evenings, Our Place has been full every night since October. Last week, it served 468 breakfasts in one morning, setting a new record.

Located across the street from the tent city, members of the Christ Church Cathedral congregation have gone to visit the campers and listen to their needs.

Reverend Ansley Tucker, dean of the cathedral, said the camp appears to be an orderly community and is asking citizens to deal with the fear of what they don’t understand.

“We need to find ways of expressing compassion to people who are not as fortunate as we are,” she said. “It’s not that they can’t afford housing, it’s that we don’t have the housing. We need to say loud and clear that proper shelter is a human right.”

 

 

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

Just Posted

Saanich police officers were one group of dozens that submitted dance clips to the Greater Victoria Festival Society, to help create the Dance Across Victoria video montage. (Youtube/Screenshot)
WATCH: Saanich police, Victoria mayor bust some moves in new Dance Across Victoria video

Montage features submitted dance clips from across Greater Victoria

Former Oak Bay High Grade 12 student Brandon Kip plays the $100,000 Steinway piano in the Dave Dunnet Theatre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay High Alumni Association passes torch to new president

The association has given back more than $70,000 in its 16 years

Saanich’s Malia Brodie competed in the Vancouver qualifiers for the 2020 National Championships. (Photo by BC Sport Karate Snaps)
PHOTOS: Saanich teen awarded $1,800 Karate Canada bursary to pursue officiant certification

Malia Brodie, 18, has black belt, nearly 15 years experience in karate

This photo courtesy of Leanne Grover shows the immediate aftermath of the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents. (Leanne Grover/Submitted)
Residents of a Central Saanich duplex ‘fortunate’ to escape Sunday morning fire

Damage to the duplex extensive with one resident said to be ‘catatonic’ after escaping building

After more than a year, open forums will resume at a Saanich committee of the whole meeting on April 19 with up to five residents having the chance to speak for three minutes each about any district-related matter. (Black Press Media file photo)
Public input resumes at Saanich council following lengthy suspension due to pandemic

Up to five residents can present by phone for up to three minutes starting April 19

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read