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Victoria no longer using Beacon Hill Park as temporary homeless shelter
The City of Victoria says it is no longer planning on opening a temporary outdoor homeless shelter in Beacon Hill Park: (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- The City of Victoria announced several new measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 Thursday, including restructuring its plans to create outdoor temporary homeless shelters at three local parks.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says that the city will no longer be opening a shelter in Beacon Hill Park, and will only open two facilities, one in Topaz Park and one in Royal Athletic Park.
The decision to focus on two facilities instead of three will allow for city staff to construct and open the homeless shelters sooner and more efficiently, says Helps.
Victoria’s mayor adds that the city and provincial government continue to work on indoor housing options for homeless people in the city.
As of Thursday, Island Health made 30 beds available for people in the street community who display symptoms of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Emergency Management BC and the city have secured 35 motel rooms for homeless people to stay in, which will be funded by the provincial government.
The motel rooms have been secured for a total of 30 days, and will be reviewed once their secured time has ended.
Helps adds that the rooms will only be occupied by people who display no symptoms of coronavirus.
While B.C.’s provincial state of emergency is in effect, Helps says that vulnerable residents who have substance addictions will have access to safe supplies through the government.
The safe supply was announced by health minister Adrian Dix and is a program that will be unrolled throughout the province.
On Thursday, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced that while the state of emergency is in place, municipal bylaw officers will be able to enforce provincial health orders.
Helps says that the city is considering hiring additional bylaw officers to help enforce these orders, like the provincial ban on gatherings larger than 50 people and ensuring that people are practicing physical distancing.
The city says it is also calling on the province to temporarily ban commercial landlords from evicting small businesses and non-profit societies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Meanwhile, Helps says that the city is waiving all penalties for late payment of utility fees for all residents while the province is under a state of emergency.
“Now, that seems like a very small thing, but at this point in time, every dollar kept in peoples’ pocket matters,” she said.