Homeless campers in Victoria’s Centennial Square will soon have to find another place to call home.
On Tuesday, Sept. 1, park bylaw officers will be enforcing those sheltering in the downtown park to relocate to other places.
This order was made by the Director of Parks, Recreation, and Facilities on Friday, Aug. 28, which allows for the closure of parks and open spaces “where hazardous conditions exist.”
“We recognize every person has the right to shelter and that COVID-19 has exacerbated the challenges faced by vulnerable populations,” said city staffer Sheldon Johnson in an emailed statement.
“However, Centennial Square has become entrenched with a criminal element that demands greater action to protect the public, businesses and those seeking shelter.”
On Wednesday, the Victoria Police Department (VicPD) announced the outcome of an undercover operation in which police posed as undercover customers to buy drugs, including meth, cocaine, psilocybin and fentanyl from several tents in Centennial Square.
Seventeen people are facing charges in connection to the investigation and one additional person is wanted for a robbery charge.
As of March, there were 1,523 homeless people counted in the Capital Regional District (CRD). That number is only two people fewer than previously counted two years ago in 2018.
City staff pointed out that once relocation is completed, cleaning and remediation, including landscape restoration, will take place at the park.