A discarded needle lies on the sidewalk along Quadra Street at 10 am Monday morning outside the site of the former Tent City homeless encampment. The last campers were moved to new residences Friday. Remediation of the site is supposed to start today.

What’s next for the former tent city site?

“It sure looks a lot different,” says a man as he peers through the fence surrounding the green space of the Victoria courthouse.

“It sure looks a lot different,” says a man as he peers through the fence surrounding the green space of the Victoria courthouse Friday afternoon, looking at what’s left of what used to be a thriving homeless camp.

The statement was echoed by a handful of people who watched as crews hauled out debris after the camp shut down last week in accordance with a court order. The campers who’ve called the property home for the last several months have either moved elsewhere or into supportive housing supplied by the province.

During the past few months, the province has managed to house more than 300 people in Victoria, including a number of those who lived at tent city.

Updating media Friday afternoon, Housing Minister Rich Coleman said he was happy that everyone left the site voluntarily and there was a peaceful resolution. Now the work begins to remediate what’s left of the property.

A bulldozer was slated to arrive on Monday to clean up the remaining debris and a few structures built by some of the campers. Crews will also be testing the soil to determine whether it’s been contaminated.

Coleman figures the cost of cleaning up the site will be at least $250,000. The province is pondering what to do with the property once it’s been remediated.

“It’s certainly going to be something that’s a credit to the local community other than just some passive space. We’d like to put something in there that could be a benefit to the community,” said Coleman, noting a playground is one of the ideas being floated.

“Our focus will be to get it cleaned up, which will take some time.”

Tents started sprouting on the green space last fall after a few campers discovered the property is owned by the province, therefore city bylaws that only allow sheltering in parks between certain times don’t apply.

With no police forcing campers to pack up and leave every morning, the property grew popular among the city’s homeless, with more than 100 people packed onto the site at one point. In turn, area residents reported a number of problems with thefts, garbage and noise, prompting police to dedicate officers specifically to the site and surrounding area.

In a statement released last week about the closure of tent city, Acting Chief Const. Colin Watson said the department had been working towards a peaceful resolution with the campers.

“This increased presence helped keep things as peaceful as possible and helped to address the concerns of the surrounding community,” said Watson, noting several officers were injured in the course of their duties at tent city.

Late last month, four officers were hurt during a violent arrest at the camp where a man known to police had to be subdued with a Taser.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps was at the site as it was shut down during the early morning hours on Friday. She felt relieved the campers moved without any confrontation, but noted this is just the start of addressing the city’s homeless problem.

A regional housing program will start rolling out in September, added Helps, which will provide $60 million over five years to build new housing. That’s when she suspects the community will see an even bigger change.

As for the possibility of another tent city blossoming in the city, Helps said as long as the pressure is on to build more housing and the funds keep flowing to do so, there shouldn’t be another homeless camp.

“It’s a travesty that in a wealthy country like Canada that the word tent city is even part of our vocabulary…there’s still 1,300 people or so in the region who are homeless, 200 of those under the age of 18,” said Helps, who would like to see a playground installed on what’s left of the green space at the courthouse.

“We’ve heard repeatedly about the need for a playground downtown. That would be awesome.”

 

 

 

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

Just Posted

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

More than 250 riders took part in the fifth annual Tripleshot CrossFondo, which riders across parts of the Saanich Peninsula, including this field near Sluggett Farms. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Tripleshot CrossFondo rides across Saanich Peninsula

More than 250 cyclists took part in mystery-course race

City of Victoria crews will soon be gathering up fallen leaves in neighbourhoods and city parks. First up on the pickup list are the James Bay, Fairfield, Rockland, Gonzales and South Jubilee neighbourhoods, starting Oct. 19. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria city leaf pickup a sure sign of fall

Residential pickup begins Oct. 19, drop-offs can happen anytime at city yard

Local New Democrat Zeb King welcomed Premier John Horgan during a brief photo opportunity in Sidney Monday afternoon (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

Incumbent MLA Adam Olsen calls Horgan’s claim ‘bold’

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Greater Victoria in high-demand on website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read