Victoria City Council passes motion to house all people by March 31, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria City Council passes motion to house all people by March 31, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria councillor notes ‘escape clause’ in bid to bring homeless indoors by spring

Council agrees to motion that also states 24/7 camping would end when housing is available

Victoria hopes to get all unhoused people currently sheltering in city parks, housed by spring.

A motion, put forward by Mayor Lisa Helps and Coun. Jeremy Loveday during Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting, asks that the city, along with Island Health and BC Housing, offer housing or indoor shelter to everyone currently sheltering outdoors by March 31, 2021. In addition, it sets the same deadline for the end of 24/7 sheltering in city parks.

Loveday said he was coming from the standpoint of housing as a human right, adding that he doesn’t want to see the normalization of sheltering in parks permanently and called the move a step in the right direction.

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe questioned how the city would manage people without homes who move to parks after the motion had passed with the intention of getting free housing. Helps said the wording of the motion was important, pointing to the fact it states ‘currently’ sheltering in the park. She added that people have been coming to Victoria every summer and a “bigger deal” has been made of it this year.

READ ALSO: Clock starts ticking for use of federal housing funds in Greater Victoria

The estimated number of people living without homes in Victoria is 250. Helps said that if rental supplements from BC Housing came through, it would be possible to house approximately 200 people by the end of 2020. The motion states BC Housing would provide 100 rent supplements, to top-up provided to the income assistance rates to make it possible for people living in supportive housing to move into market rental units.

When questioned on what discussions the city has had with BC Housing and if they were aware of these actions, the meeting was taken in camera to discuss.

READ ALSO: Victoria lays out ambitious plan to end sheltering in parks by March 2021

In addition to the rental supplements, 60 units open this month in Langford and View Royal, renting for $375 per month as part of the Regional Housing First Program. People who are living in motels, shelters or supportive housing can move into these units and then 60 people living outside can move into vacated spaces.

Another 24 units for treatment are available at Our Place’s Therapeutic Recovery Community in View Royal. Council is also recommending that staff work with a private land owner or use city-used land to build tiny home clusters of no more than 30, in shipping containers.

The motion is also requesting the province immediately open the empty Oak Bay Lodge for people who are 55 years or older and are living in city park or shelters until the vacant building is demolished.

Coun. Geoff Young said that while he was in agreement with the idea that people living in parks is unacceptable, he had a number of concerns regarding the motion. First, he said, the motion assumes that once people are inside that will address all other issues unhoused people face. He also pointed out that there’s the suggested implication that the city will bypass normal zoning procedures in an effort to get housing built quickly.

The motion adds, which Young called an “escape clause,” that only when housing and shelter space has been made available can the 24/7 sheltering in parks bylaw be ended.

READ ALSO: B.C. Housing declines to pursue Oak Bay Lodge as shelter housing


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

City of Victoria

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

Just Posted

Victoria police arrested a man in a Yates Street grocery store Nov. 27 after he refused to wear a mask. (Black Press Media File photo)
Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Officers fined the man $230 under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

The Town of Sidney will receive $2.75 million in direct grant support from the provincial government to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A report before council Monday recommends a “cautious and measured approach” in using the funds. (Black Press Media File)
Staff suggest Sidney be cautious spending $2.75 million from province

Staff also warn of financial ‘uncertainty’ and raise prospect of tax increase

North Saanich will encourage but not force residents to burn outdoor waste on days with good venting index. (Black Press Media File)
North Saanich fires up comprehensive strategy report on outdoor burning, green waste disposal

North Saanich to encourage but not require residents to burn only on days with good venting index

A 43-year-old woman is facing charges for impaired driving and leaving the scene of a crash after attempting to flee from police by driving down the beach in front of the Oak Bay Marina on Nov. 23. (Oak Bay Police/Twitter)
Victoria woman drives over seawall onto beach near Oak Bay Marina

Driver faces charges for fleeing crash, refusing breathalyzer test

Friends with Dorothy opens in Victoria.
LGBT2Q+ lounge Friends with Dorothy opens second location in Victoria

The Kelowna-based lounge plans to open in Victoria mid-December

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read