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Victoria to allow homeless campers to stay at Beacon Hill Park
VICTORIA -- The City of Victoria has decided not to enforce bylaws that prohibit 24/7 camping in parts of the city, including Beacon Hill Park, until June 25.
Victoria council passed a motion to allow for all-day camping at a meeting Thursday.
Under normal circumstances, shelters on city property must be taken down and removed every morning.
Now, the city has passed a motion that calls for deferred enforcement of a bylaw that prohibits sheltering in parks from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., excluding the Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue areas, until June 25.
Additionally, the city has outlined more specific rules on how to manage campers’ property during this time.
City council directed staff not to remove shelters or personal property if they appear to be abandoned or unused until 72 hours after they have been flagged by a bylaw officer.
Any items that are removed by city staff must be stored in a secure facility for up to 30 days so that they can be picked up by their owners.
The city says that it will also work to improve communication between bylaw officers, people living outside and outreach workers to clarify what is permitted.
City staff are expected to provide a report on Victoria’s homeless camping situation to council on June 25, as well as discuss more options for indoor sheltering.
On Sunday, the Victoria Police Department arrested eight people at a homeless encampment that is being removed along Pandora Avenue.
According to VicPD, the campers were “provided every possible opportunity for those encamped in this area to depart without enforcement action.”
The eight people that were arrested were held at the Victoria Police Department headquarters and their property was taken for safekeeping. Police say that they will return everyone’s belongings “under the direction of Victoria Bylaw” when they are released.
As of Monday, more than 300 people in Victoria have been moved into indoor sheltering at a variety of hotels, motels and the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.