Victoria to allow all-day camping to continue for people awaiting indoor sheltering
Published Wednesday, April 21, 2021 9:58AM PDT
VICTORIA -- The City of Victoria will allow people who are sheltering in municipal parks to remain in their tents all day if they are awaiting indoor housing spaces, which were promised by the city and BC Housing earlier this year.
Previously, the city announced that all campers would be moved into indoor shelter spaces by May 1, after it missed its initial April 1 target. The city also said that starting May 1, tents and shelters would no longer be allowed to stay in parks 24 hours a day, and would only be allowed to remain overnight.
As people transition into indoor sheltering spaces, the city says that anyone who is signed up for a shelter space will be allowed to stay in a local park all day until their space is ready.
Anyone who chose not to sign up for an indoor spot must pack up their tents between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, according to the city.
"Once someone makes the decision to move inside, we want to do everything we can to support them in that transition and on their pathway to permanent housing," said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps in a statement Tuesday.
"That includes taking a compassionate, tailored approach to bylaw enforcement until their new homes are ready to move into," she said.
The city says that bylaw officers will also help campers pack and downsize their belongings before they move into indoor spaces, if they would like.
Anyone who declines indoor sheltering and remains in a park during the day may have their tents or property impounded by bylaw officers, says the city.
"Sheltering in parks is a humanitarian crisis," said Helps.
"Staff have put together a thoughtful, graduated approach to bylaw enforcement that recognizes individual needs while ensuring that the bylaw prohibiting daytime sheltering is enforced," she said. "Council supports this direction."
The city says that indoor sheltering spaces will open in the Vic West area during the first week of May. One week later, the "Tiny Homes Village" at Royal Athletic Park will also open as temporary housing.
The two properties have enough spaces for roughly 100 people, according to the city. Over the past two and a half months, 114 people have moved from city parks into indoor sheltering spaces.
In early March, the city estimated that there were at least 200 unsheltered people living in Victoria.