Little movement on deadline day for Saanich's tent city
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Tuesday, September 11, 2018 5:59PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 11, 2018 7:05PM PDT
Saanich's mayor says he expects people inhabiting a tent city will clear out by a court-ordered deadline – but campers seem to have other ideas.
Campers at Regina Park were expected to move by a 7 p.m. deadline Tuesday before the encampment is torn down.
The deadline comes after a judge granted the District of Saanich an injunction request to dismantle the tent city over fire hazards and other safety concerns.
But as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, there was little movement at the encampment and organizers said there might not be any for days.
Camp Namegans organizer Chrissy Brett said she didn't expect anyone to leave until Friday at the earliest, well past the Tuesday deadline.
There was also little police presence at the site with two hours to go until the deadline.
People living there who spoke with CTV News earlier in the day said they've dreaded the move-out deadline after it was issued by the judge last Friday.
"To me, right now, this is my home, and how would you feel if you're being told to get out of your home?" said camper John Daley.
Many aren't certain where they'll go but know they'd rather be at Regina Park, where they say they feel safe.
"I love it," said Willie, a resident. "This was my home from another home."
With the clock winding down on the homeless encampment, others became emotional.
"We'll continue to work as a community to make sure not just the people here are supported, but the 1,400 in the Greater Victoria area," said Brett, who was also involved with a similar tent city at Victoria's courthouse three years ago.
Meanwhile, Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell predicted that the park would be cleared out by Wednesday so it can be remediated in the coming weeks.
If campers choose to stay behind, he said it's within police jurisdiction to forcibly remove them.
"If they're not interested in leaving, and they decide they want to stay put and continue to protest, I imagine the police will use their power to arrest," said Atwell.
Police have said they'll encourage the 80 or so people remaining to leave voluntarily, but campers could be arrested if they don't cooperate.
Some living at the tent city have said they have designs on a new location, but haven't divulged where that location may be.
Court ordered deadline of 7 pm has come and gone for folks living at Saanich’s tent city and many are still here. No police presence. Seems to support theory they will be here beyond tomorrow @CTVNewsVI— Robert Buffam (@CTVNewsRob) September 12, 2018