Residents of tent city were served an eviction notice to be off the lawns of the Victoria courthouse by Feb. 25. However

Residents of tent city were served an eviction notice to be off the lawns of the Victoria courthouse by Feb. 25. However

Tent city residents refuse to leave

Standing in the crowd of the so-called Super In Tent City, it's hard to ignore the sense of community that's been building.

Standing in the crowd of the so-called Super In Tent City, it’s hard to ignore the sense of community that’s been building for the past seven months.

Dozens of new and old tents have been set up, some with wooden boards to raise tents above the ground and others covered in tarps. Each of the roughly 80 campers living there have established their own space to call home outside the Victoria courthouse.

Last Thursday, the camp was buzzing with excitement as hundreds of people gathered in the heart of tent city to protest the provincial government’s Feb. 25 eviction notice.

Roughly 45 people from tent cities in Abbotsford and Vancouver were bussed in to show their support.

Supporters held signs reading “everyone deserves a home” and “housing is a human right.” They chanted “House us, don’t hide us, build homes now” in unison, sending the message loud and clear to the government — campers are there to stay.

The campers have been living on the provincially-owned land on Burdett Avenue since the fall when they discovered a loophole that allowed them to stay, instead of camping in parks where city bylaws only allow people to camp from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The government has announced a number of temporary housing options for the campers until more permanent solutions are made available.

Eighty-eight spaces at two shelters have been opened — 50 spaces at the former Victoria Youth Custody Centre in View Royal, operated by Our Place Society for the next six months, and 38 spaces at Mount Edwards Court on Vancouver Street, operated by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, for the next 12 months.

The spaces are in addition to another temporary shelter at the former Boys and Girls Club on Yates Street, which opened earlier this year and houses 44 people.

“We’ve got enough housing for everybody down there, so they don’t have any excuse to not come inside, but we also live in a free country and they don’t have to come inside,” said Housing Minister Rich Coleman.

“They have a place to go, it’s warm, it’s clean, it’s stable, three meals a day and we’ll bring in supports to help with addictions and those sorts of things.”

Despite being served an eviction notice, a majority of campers have remained past the deadline, saying the housing options are flawed.

Campers said they’ve formed a mini-community — an experimental micro-housing project and one they don’t intend on disbanding.

“My community is here. We help each other. We get along quite well. We really do take care of each other better than anyone else I’ve ever seen in this city,” said Ana, who came to live at tent city in November after living on and off the streets for the past seven years.

“We’re all inclusive and tolerant. We’ve all experienced the worst of the things out there and we know that we’re all safe together.”

Crystal, also a tent city resident, said she’s found solace within the community they’ve formed.

“We have a group of citizens here that now are together and by being together, they’ve been able to help heal each other,” she said.

The campers hope the provincial government will consider other options to help house the city’s homeless.

 

 

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

Just Posted

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

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

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

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read