After offering flooded Central Park campers a nearby parking lot to pitch their tents last week, the City of Victoria is closing the park for “remediation.”
The park has been one of several areas in which unhoused people have been living since the pandemic hit and, as with other camping areas, has been a source of tension.
According to the city, many areas of Central Park have been damaged “due to the effects of recent heavy rain and snow, and high sheltering activity” and require remediation. Bylaw officers will be informing remaining campers that they must move by Jan. 4, at which point the park will be closed to the public.
On Dec. 21, the North Park Neighbourhood Association’s board of directors wrote to the city and BC Housing, asking that the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena be used again to provide immediate and temporary indoor housing.
BC Housing told Black Press Media that it received the letter and is discussing the possibility, but that no firm decisions have been made. Instead, it and the city made the Royal Athletic Park parking lot available as a temporary sheltering area until a better solution is found.
The city is also offering new tents and bedding to displaced campers.
Central Park will be re-opened for community use once the impacts and hazards have been assessed and addressed, the city said.
–With files from Nina Grossman