Province tells campers in Saanich's newest tent city to cease occupation
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, September 17, 2018 11:21AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, September 17, 2018 6:25PM PDT
The province has issued a notice of unauthorized occupation to a group of campers who moved their tent city to a patch of provincial land in Saanich.
Because the green space is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transportation, it prevented police from being able to enforce a municipal bylaw that permits overnight sheltering as long as campers move on by 9 a.m.
Police asked the province to allow officers to enforce the Trespass Act after as many as 75 people moved to the grassy patch, which is along Ravine Way north of Uptown Mall.
The site quickly grew to include about 25 tents over the weekend, and furniture and other materials were delivered there.
Police also warned that there was a "significantly more confrontational tone to the group" than witnessed at the Regina Park encampment, which was shut down last week after operating for five months.
The latest notice from the province was distributed to campers without incident over the weekend, and police are now be asking campers to vacate immediately.
"Provincial outreach staff will assist campers who need help moving and with housing needs assessments," the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in a statement. "We will continue to do everything we can to support people who are experiencing homelessness. That includes working with our non-profit partners to expedite the opening of winter shelters as soon as possible and distributing rent supplements to help people find housing in the private market."
It called homelessness a critical issue and pointed to a recent announcement that the province is building more 2,000 modular homes for homeless people around B.C.
But on the weekend, campers told CTV News said they don't plan on going anywhere.
"We gave a notice to the province saying that we're giving them a notice of unauthorized use and occupation, and all representatives of the province of B.C. occupying the lands," said camp organizer Chrissy Brett.
Campers are referring to the newest encampment as Namegans Nation, a nod to the previous tent city at Regina Park that was dubbed Camp Namegans.
Police say they are increasing patrols in the neighbourhood to ensure the safety of residents living near the encampment.
This is the notice issued by #BCGovernment to campers at new #Saanich #tentcity #homeless encampment telling them to vacate the property. Campers say they are not going to leave and are issuing their own notice to the province. pic.twitter.com/s5aLUgbBDE— Christina Stevens (@CTV_Christina) September 16, 2018