A bylaw limiting the size and location of temporary shelters in Victoria was adopted Monday morning.
Victoria council passed the final changes to its Parks Regulation Bylaw in a special meeting, adopting amendments that limit the size of shelters to three-square metres while requiring a four-metre distance between each shelter in order to improve emergency access.
An eight-metre buffer zone will be required around playgrounds and a 50-metre buffer zone around school properties. Open flame and combustibles will be restricted.
New parks have been added to the list of prohibited locations, including Summit Park, Moss Rock Park, MacDonald Park, South Park, Robert Porter Park, David Spencer Park and all city garden beds and community gardens.
In a statement, Mayor Lisa Helps emphasized that the measures are temporary. An amendment is written so that daytime sheltering will end 30 days after the provincial state of emergency is declared over.
“Sheltering in parks is not an ideal solution for anyone,” she said. “Given that we are still in a provincial state of emergency, it is important to note that these are emergency measures.”
The city continues to work with Island Health, BC Housing and regional non-profit organizations to find additional indoor spaces for sheltering.
Several hotels, as well as the Save-On-Foods-Memorial Centre, have been designated for indoor sheltering, but the latest estimates indicate that 275 people still live outside in Victoria, a number that has more than doubled between June and August.
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