Saanich to hold special meeting as concerns grow over homeless camp
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Friday, June 8, 2018 6:31PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, June 8, 2018 6:54PM PDT
A homeless camp in Saanich is growing bigger by the day – and so is concern from neighbours living near the site.
The tent city has been nestled beside the Trans-Canada Highway across from Uptown Mall for several weeks now after roving through several Capital Region communities.
Residents are staying put at the encampment until there are more affordable housing solutions in Saanich, according to organizer Chrissy Brett.
"I think we're here to stay," she told CTV News Friday.
It isn't comforting news for those living around the camp like Mavleen Saggi, whose backyard looks out to the site.
"We don't let our brother out in the yard because you never know," said Saggi. "I feel like they're getting closer and closer to our backyard fence."
Others like James Clark, who's lived in the area for 32 years, say they're worried about the potential for thefts and fire hazards at the encampment.
"There's about 40 or 50 people down there or more," he said. "If that thing down there catches fire, the grass is dry. The guys come all the time to cut the grass but they can't cut the grass because those tents are there now, you see? So that fire potential is real high."
Meanwhile about 100 kilometres up-island, city officials in Nanaimo are dealing with their own tense situation involving a homeless camp.
"We are advising people in the tent city that they are trespassing. They have been issued eviction notices, and there will be escalating consequences for that as we move forward," said acting Nanaimo Mayor Ian Thorpe.
Some at that camp, dubbed "DisconTent City," are taking it as a hollow threat.
"Where are we going to go? Like, there's nowhere to go," said resident Amber McGrath.
Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell has called a special meeting for later this month with police, fire and the public to address the mounting crisis.
"Really we're looking for an innovative solution, I think, that can deal with this," he said. "I don't want those individuals in the park over the summer, because it is going to become a fire hazard."