A homeless camp on the outskirts of Victoria. The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness thinks ending homelessness is 'within reach.' (Victoria News)

Victoria, province won’t meet March 31 goal of sheltering encampment residents

Goal to house those living in parks delayed to the end of April

BC Housing won’t reach its goal of ensuring indoor shelter for all residents living in Victoria encampments by the end of March, the province and city announced Thursday.

The goal to provide indoor spaces for the roughly 200 people living in encampments across the city has been delayed to the end of April.

The province said the delay is due to two housing sites, secured by BC Housing this month, needing “significant additional retrofitting to prepare them for use as emergency shelters,” according to a provincial press release.

“The province and BC Housing have worked really hard and everyone currently living in the parks will be offered an indoor space as a pathway to permanent housing,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in the release.

Victoria was planning on reinstating its bylaw on April 1 that prohibits public camping from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Once all of the offers have been made and all the spaces open, the city will once again prohibit 24/7 sheltering,” Helps said.

READ: All unhoused Victoria residents will be offered shelter by March 31, says BC Housing

The release states Victoria, the province and BC Housing have secured enough housing spaces that will be fully operational by April 30 with staff on-site 24/7 to provide meal programs, life skills training and health and wellness support.

A final site list for the spaces will be release in the coming weeks once all of the agreements between BC Housing and the property owners have closed.Some shelter spaces are already being utilized. For example, the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre arena offers 45 spaces and is currently at capacity.

Container homes being built in Royal Athletic Park will provide 30 spaces, and another 40 spaces will be made available at the Capital CityCenter Hotel once an area damaged by a November 2020 is restored.

The province added that new sites identified to support decampment are not located in the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood.

– with files from Nina Grossman

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HomelessnessVictoria