– Updated at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.
The remaining group of about 20 homeless campers staying at a West Saanich Road property have agreed to vacate as of Oct. 12.
Saanich resident Sam Seera has come to an understanding that the group of Camp Namegans holdouts from Regina Park are in need of a place to go. He has agreed not to pursue an eviction through authorities and to pay for two U-Haul trucks to move the group’s belongings.
Seera spent the better part of Friday morning and afternoon in an open discussion with Chrissy Brett, Blair Este, Lynne Hibak, and about 20 campers in total who moved onto the site on Tuesday following their eviction from the Goldstream Provincial Park.
Seera was surprised on Tuesday to learn that David Shebib, who resides on Seera’s property at 5090 West Saanich Rd., had invited the campers to stay at the West Saanich property until Oct. 20.
“You know you guys have to leave, you can’t stay here,” Seera said in a sit-down discussion on Friday morning. “So what can I do to help?”
Seera broke from the sit-down to bring food from the Royal Oak restaurant Flaming Tandoori. He also rescinded the eviction notice he had posted to all tenants at the property.
It’s an about face for Seera, who initially worried about who would pay for the costs of the camp clean-up, citing city news releases about a $800,000 remediation at Regina Park.
“He was anticipating we were criminals but has changed his view, he sees the campers as people and was able to give us a week which is more than the courts were able to give us,” said Chrissy Brett, an activist for homeless and housing.
Brett and other campers talked with Seera about putting pressure on the District of Saanich and the minister responsible for housing, Selina Robinson. The group understands they need to move on, said Brett, but have nowhere to go.
“We are asking for support, for your family, friends, to put pressure on the ministry, on the city, to do something,” Brett said. “Mayfair Lanes could host modular housing. [In the meantime] there are other crown lands we can go to.”
Seera, a local mortgage broker, said there have already been homeless people living at 5090 West Saanich Rd. that he’s known about.
“Sometimes two, sometimes four or five, they come and go,” Seera said. “The city has asked me about them, I told the [city], ‘Where do you want them to go, to the Saanich lawn? Where are they supposed to go.’”
In saying that, Seera said he’s done his part. He can’t have 20 people living at the property.
“The city is working on the trespassing bylaw, it could come today or tomorrow, [the police] might be coming so I want to support you as much as I can,” Seera told the campers.
On Thursday, Premier John Horgan said British Columbia’s homeless issue is a serious challenge.
“Certainly we’re doing our level best to make sure that our housing plan is there for the hard to house and there are many, many in British Columbia,” Horgan said. “There are camps and communities like Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Vancouver, are more recently Langford. … So this is a challenge and a serious one.”
After a two-week stay at the campground of Goldstream Provincial Park, the tent city campers moved into the backyard of a Saanich mayoral candidate.
“This is the last resort, they had nowhere to go so I decided that this was it,” David Shebib said recently, who is once again running for Saanich mayor. “I don’t see politicians coming up with any answers.”