VICTORIA -- Victoria city council is moving ahead with a plan to house the city's homeless population by March 2021, and is considering proposals for a temporary tiny-house community.

“We proposed today, and council accepted, that we would work with BC Housing and Island Health to move everybody currently sheltering outside, inside to shelter or housing by the end of March,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps on Thursday.

One of the ideas is to build a cluster of 30 tiny houses on city-owned or privately owned land.

If a suitable spot is found, the temporary units could be constructed in the first quarter of 2021 and would have operating support from BC Housing and Island Health.

The tiny homes would be a pilot project as part of a broader plan for immediate and long-term housing solutions for people sheltering in Victoria city parks.

“It’s 30 units, it’s not going to solve the problem and it’s also temporary,” said Helps. “Spaces would be there for a year or so.”

Helps said several ideas are being generated by the private sector and by people in the development industry who want to help.

Some of the drawings for what a tiny village might look like are quite exciting, the mayor said. “It’s a small part of the solution but I think if it could work it’s a model that could be replicated not only in the city, but across the region.”

The tiny homes idea is part of a much larger plan that involves moving close to 250 homeless people over the next four and a half months into better shelters and accommodations.

The motion was put forward today at a committee of the whole meeting by Helps and Coun. Jeremy Loveday. Most of the six-part motion passed unanimously, with some councillors wanting to rework a few of the recommendations before considering them.

Funding for most of the projects would come from the province, with Victoria allocating a portion of the city’s federal-provincial COVID-19 restart money to help fill in financial gaps and provide land for projects.

Doug King, executive director for Together Against Poverty (TAPS), said he likes the idea of a tiny house village.

“We know that what we’ve been trying over the past 10 years isn’t working, so I’m happy that the city is at least looking at other ideas,” King said.

He said tiny homes might be best suited for the hardest-to-house people and should have the proper support services on site to manage the community.

“We can’t go through another winter with people sleeping outside and we can’t go through another summer with people living in parks,” said Helps.

“This motion today addresses both of those issues,” she added. “Parks are really important; green spaces are important to the public in a pandemic; and sheltering is really important in a pandemic as well. It’s going to be a lot of work over the next four and a half months.”