Victoria to open outdoor homeless shelters amid COVID-19 pandemic
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps provides an update on the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic: March 23, 2020 (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- The City of Victoria is opening temporary homeless shelters at three city parks to assist people through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The temporary shelters will include washrooms, hand-washing stations, meals and up-to-date health information for all users.
The city is opening the shelters in co-operation with Island Health, BC Housing, the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, the Dandelion Society and other local agencies.
“We are all in this together,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps on Monday.
“Some populations in our community don’t have the same options the rest of us do to stay safe, healthy and self-isolate at this time,” she said. “That’s why we’re working with all of our partners and looking at every option, to ensure everyone has the best chance at not spreading the COVID-19 virus.”
According to the city, the outdoor shelter at Royal Athletic Park will be operated by BC Housing and Island Health. As B.C. is currently under a state of emergency, the provincial government is able to use city facilities like parks for emergency measures.
The city adds that it is looking at indoor housing options for people who require additional services.
Meanwhile, B.C.’s capital is reiterating that all playgrounds, skate parks, basketball and tennis courts, sports fields, outdoor gyms and outdoor recreational facilities in public parks are closed to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
“We all need to do our part: stay home, maintain physical distance with others when outside, and comply with the directives public health officials," said Helps.