Campers leave tent city in Saanich, park now closed off to public
Saanich's Regina Park is now vacant for the first time in months after campers left to comply with a court order Thurs., Sept. 13, 2018. (Twitter/@SaanichPolice)
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Thursday, September 13, 2018 6:16PM PDT
Campers have officially left a tent city in Saanich that was occupied since May.
A large crowd accumulated outside of Regina Park Thursday night as the last occupants of the encampment dubbed "Camp Namegans" left the site.
A front-end loader was spotted at the site, which was fenced off and had a large police presence.
A court order had been issued last week to clear the camp by Tuesday night at 7 p.m., but campers remained, saying they were told by the city they'd have until Friday.
Saanich police said that was never the case, and campers were all informed they were in breach of the order for staying past the deadline.
"Most people have now voluntarily decamped," police said in a tweet.
But a group representing campers issued a news release saying they received a "surprise early eviction" Thursday.
"Police claim that campers will be allowed to return in the morning to retrieve their belongings, giving about 30 homeless people the choice between taking their tents to camp in a park overnight and leaving their belongings unsheltered in the elements, or leaving their tents to protect their belongings and sleeping out unsheltered," the news release said.
As of 6 p.m. the camp appeared to be cleared out and residents held a news conference outside the perimeter.
Some of the campers who left Regina Park were headed to nearby Rudd Park to stay there overnight. Saanich bylaws permit overnight camping in city parks as long as campers are gone by 7 a.m.
The city's plan for the now-vacated Regina Park is to remediate it, testing soil for any contaminants and installing fireproof wood chips. The injunction preventing any form of camping at the park is expected to remain in place for eight months.
Regina Park in #Saanich has now been vacated, as ordered by the BC Supreme Court. Everyone has left peacefully. Remediation of the park can now begin. The park will be fenced off until remediation work is complete. Thank you for your patience everyone. pic.twitter.com/BWTswy0Ahq— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) September 14, 2018