Victoria mother living near Pandora Ave afraid after multiple break-ins with weapons
VICTORIA -- Jennifer Hutter and her two-year-old son, Rider, live right by the tent city that has exploded on Victoria’s Pandora Avenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She says she now feels like a hostage in her own home because of aggressive and criminal behaviour flowing from it, making the area feel like a lawless state.
“Residents in our building, and me, are prisoners in our own home because we can’t leave because we’ve had so many break-ins,” Hutter told CTV News.
In fact, she says her building has been the target of eight break-ins in the past 10 days, including several times by a man wielding a hatchet as well as someone with a knife.
“I would like to ask the mayor how she would feel if her home was broken into eight times in the last 10 days,” Hutter said in an emotional interview.
“And what would the council do if their building or their home that they lived in was broken into by an armed man with an axe? It’s not okay and this needs to stop,” she said.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says she expects an announcement from the provincial government in the next few days regarding moving people indoors from both Pandora Avenue and the outdoor homeless shelter at Topaz Park.
Still, Helps says she understands Hutter’s fear.
“I feel terrible for the mother and her [son] and for everybody else who’s impacted,” she said.
“Both those living both inside and outside. It’s not a sustainable situation. It’s an impossible situation,” said Helps.
During these desperate times, the strip along Pandora Avenue, near where Hutter lives, has grown to include approximately 150 tents and roughly 300 people.
Grant Mackenzie works for Our Place, a shelter on Pandora Avenue. He says many of the folks who moved to the area in the past few weeks are seeking a community after the drop-in centre at Our Place was closed due to physical distancing guidelines.
Mackenzie says Our Place expected the provincial government to step up sooner to address this growing problem.
“We are probably as shocked as everybody that people are still in tents in the boulevard five weeks later,” said Mackenzie.
The provincial government says it will be making an announcement addressing the growing homeless problem in BC amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming days.
But for Hutter, that announcement can’t come soon enough.
“The lawless state down here has to get addressed immediately,” she said. “Because some will get hurt. Someone will get shot or stabbed. It’s only a matter of time.”