Saanich cops were patrolling the homeless camp in Regina Park Tuesday afternoon less than seven hours before a deadline that requires residents to leave the site. Mayor Richard Atwell said those defying the court order are likely to be arrested. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Update: No arrests at Saanich’s homeless camp as Tuesday night deadline passes

Roughly 75% of campers remain in Regina Park despite court order to vacate

A deadline that asked some 90 homeless people to leave Greater Victoria’s Regina Park came and went Tuesday night without any arrests.

This development marked an anti-climatic end to a day that started with questions and speculations about how various groups, including police and camp residents, would live up to the terms of the court order.

Justice Ward Branch Friday issued an injunction against the camp in a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that gave camp residents until 7 p.m. on Sept. 11 to leave the park, where campers have been tenting since May.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said Tuesday afternoon that police are “likely” to arrest those who refuse to leave the homeless camp alongside the Trans-Canada highway for political reasons as a court-ordered deadline approaches.

“People, who are defiant and want to make a political statement are likely to be arrested,” he said.

Atwell’s comments echoed earlier statements that police would be in a position to arrest individuals after the deadline, as Saanich would not grant camp residents a “grace period.”

He also said police would use all “reasonable means to achieve voluntary decampment before relying on the power of arrest,” and suggested that camp residents facing difficult circumstances would receive a grace period.

Camp leader Chrissy Brett — who earlier said some people were pondering the possibility of passive resistance — believed many were working hard to comply with the court order and accused Atwell and City of Saanich lawyer Jeff Locke of being unfamiliar with the facts on the ground.

RELATED: Regina Park residents ponder passive resistance against Saanich

“Their ideas on paper look better than what is on the ground,” she said in accusing Atwell of “micro-managing” the situation.

Atwell denied the charge. Neither he nor council have instructed police to arrest campers, he said. The power stems from the court-order issued last week, he said.

The starting point of Tuesday’s back-and-forth was Friday’s court ruling, which activists have denounced as “cruel and inhumane” and a “death sentence,” citing statistics that show people experiencing chronic homelessness live a life expectancy of 40 to 49, rather than those who are housed.

READ MORE: Injunction against Saanich’s tent city a ‘death sentence,’ says advocate

Under the ruling, Saanich staff would then start re-mediation of the site, a process set to last a few weeks. They would remove hazardous materials, mow the lawn, and put down eight to 12 inches of wood chips. Once deemed fire safe, Saanich would allow residents to seek overnight shelter, while prohibiting camping during the day.

As Tuesday morning broke, it appeared that few camp residents had left the site. The picture appeared similar around lunchtime. But this perception might have been deceiving. According to camp leader Chrissy Brett, anywhere between 20 and 30 residents had left the camp site by noon, leaving between 70 and 80 people behind at the lunch hour.

Several officers with the Saanich Police Department were walking among the tents at the time, while Brett was in discussion with Sgt. Andy Stuart to discuss steps during the next few hours. Police also fielded questions from residents, who are worried about losing access to the camp as Saanich plans to erect a fence around Regina Park starting Wednesday morning.

Related: Saanich will fence in and patrol Regina Park around the clock

Current plans call for a community meeting at 7 p.m. when the deadline expires, and Brett expressed hope that Saanich police would not act like police in Seattle, where authorities recently disbanded a homeless camp.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Right now, my concentration is ensuring to support people, who have been offered housing to take housing, and celebrate those small wins.”

Updates to follow.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

 

Camp Namegans at the 7 p.m. deadline on Sept. 11, 2018. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Black Press)

Just Posted

West Shore residents hold forum to voice frustration with Goldstream Park homeless camp

Some 200 residents fill local pub pointing fingers, claiming crime on the rise, safety at risk

Saanich ‘inside cat’ comes home two weeks later, two pounds lighter

The only one not excited about the return of Arthur, is the… Continue reading

City stamps rezoning approval for Merridale Cidery expansion in Victoria

Owner expects doors open by fall 2019 in Dockside Green neighbourhood

North Island Tour De Rock rider Benjamin Leah leads team to Port Hardy

“You don’t have issues and problems when you look at these kids and how much they’re going through.”

Two to hospital after University of Victoria sailing mishap

Wind gusts capsize boat of recreational club sailors

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

Whitecaps see playoff dreams fade after 2-1 loss to FC Dallas

Goal in 87th minute seals Vancouver’s fate

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

Emergency crews investigate small sulphuric acid spill in Kootenays

IRM states a small volume of less than one cup and three dime-sized drips were leaked from carrier

Victoria resident barred from trading securities for fraud

Larry Keith Davis used money from an investor to pay personal bills

Most Read