A hundred tents have been spread out over Topaz Park. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

A hundred tents have been spread out over Topaz Park. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Topaz Park camp for Victoria’s homeless desperate for volunteers

More hands needed to help enforce COVID-19 standards

Topaz Park saw some of its final touches Thursday morning as a makeshift shelter for Victoria’s homeless population during COVID-19.

The last of the tents were installed, bringing the total to 100, and showers were open for the first time since the camp opened two weeks ago. Still on the waiting list, however, are additional porta-potties and more staff and volunteers to run the camp.

“We’re kind of working frantically, we’re trying to get this up and going,” said site manager Don Evans. “It’s really difficult to find staff now since all the agencies are short shelter workers.”

The camp is running thin so they will now cast out a wider net to look for staff and volunteers to help run the camp – something necessary to keep things in line with COVID-19 social distancing and safety standards.

ALSO READ: More than 600 items donated to the homeless occupants of Topaz Park

“It’s not the easiest when you’re outdoors, dealing with elements of weather and trying to stay dry,” Evans said. “Now we need to convince occupants to continue to wash their hands and not gather in groups.”

Evans added that months or years of living on the street will form bad hygiene habits that are hard to break, and will require supervision.

The ultimate goal, he said, is to get people indoors.

B.C. Housing, Island Health and the City of Victoria are currently prioritizing getting people off of Pandora Avenue and into single-occupancy rooms – a living situation where social distancing will be much more manageable. After those people are sheltered, Topaz Park occupants will also be shifted indoors.

“Some units are ready, some they still need to staff,” Evans said. “They’re constantly looking looking at new units, but every time they find a new unit they need unit staff.”

ALSO READ: Royal Athletic Park will not be a shelter site during COVID-19 crisis

At the end of the day that means no timeline is defined for when people will leave Topaz Park and only identified the need for more hands to help.

Evans said all varieties of volunteers are need; from front line social workers, to people who have experience with customer service or graphic design.

“There’s tonnes of work to do,” he said. “When you’re trying to put this together quickly it needs a lot of volunteers. Many hands means light work.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at Topaz Park can contact Evans directly (“we still need a volunteer coordinator”) at evansdon@shaw.ca.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

CoronavirusHomelessness

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

 

A hundred tents have been spread out over Topaz Park. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

A hundred tents have been spread out over Topaz Park. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Just Posted

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read