A roving tent city has now set up in Saanichton Green Park, near the Saanich Pioneer Museum and the Polo Park neighbourhood.
As of Wednesday morning, there are three tents, a small bus and signs that read “Housing First Saves Lives & $$,” “Homes Not Hate,” and an excerpt from Victoria (City) v. Adams (2008), a B.C. Supreme Court decision which ruled that forbidding such camps was a violation of S. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees “life, liberty, and security of the person.” In the decision, such camps were ruled to be a life-sustaining act.
The tent city has occupied parks and beaches in Oak Bay, Victoria and Saanich, often near upscale neighbourhoods, but this is their first appearance on the Saanich Peninsula.
Cpl. Dan Cottingham of Central Saanich Police said that they have been in contact with Chrissy Brett, the organizer, and the municipality has provided a portable toilet, sharps container, and extra garbage cans. They also plan to speak to local residents about the tent city and assure them that they are keeping tabs on the situation.
“We obviously want this to go as safely and peacefully as possible with minimal disturbance to local residents,” he said.
Cottingham is not sure if the camp will spend the full two weeks in the location as they have in the past, or if they will move early to another park in Brentwood Bay.
“So far, the dialogue has gone well and we’re hoping for the best,” he said.
This article will be updated as the situation unfolds.