After a two-week stay in Goldstream Park’s campground, the tent city campers are moving into the backyard of a Saanich mayoral candidate.
“This is the last resort, they had nowhere to go so I decided that this was it,” said David Shebib, who is once again running for Saanich mayor. “I don’t see politicians coming up with any answers.”
Chrissy Brett, the leader of the homeless camp known as Camp Namegans, said there are about 20 to 25 campers moving into the space where Shebib resides.
“They have until Judgment Day, Oct. 20,” Shebib said.
Shebib is not new to tent cities or the issues of homelessness. He says he was arrested in 2014 for promoting a tent city at the former BC Hydro Rock Bay site that was undergoing remediation. In 2014 Shebib ran for election in all 13 municipalities.
Chrissy Brett says the remaining group of campers from Goldstream has been invited to stay at Mayoral candidate David Shebib’s West Saanich property throughout the election. pic.twitter.com/i0BikBHLfa— Saanich News (@saanichnews) October 2, 2018
Lindsay Byers of Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing confirmed that all of the homeless campers have left Goldstream campground. In an email, she said the ministry is continuing to work with campers to offer shelter. Since the Regina Park tent city, only 10 people have accepted the offer.
Four shelters in Greater Victoria, Byers said, are prepared to take some new people, including Rock Bay Landing, Sandy Merriman Shelter, Victoria Native Friendship Centre and Arbutus Shelter.
About 20-25 homeless campers from Goldstream and Regina Park before that have relocated to mayoral candidate David Shebib’s property at 5000-block West Saanich Rd. pic.twitter.com/3SFGT2AGsC— Saanich News (@saanichnews) October 2, 2018
Brett said they had nowhere else to go and wanted to stay as a group.
“[Shebib] had listened to the rhetoric of ‘take them home to your own backyard if you so care to,’ and he said, ‘why not,’” Brett said upon arrival at Shebib’s place. “He’s opened up his backyard, his front yard and all around his house for us to take a bit of a break. It’s not huge, but we’ll make it work.”
According to BC Assessment, the property is approximately 1.4 acres in size.
As for the recently vacated Goldstream Park campground, BC Parks has to assess the area before it can be opened to the public. David Karn, the communications officer with the Ministry of Environment, said, “We anticipate that some remediation will be required, however, we won’t know the scale and timing until we have assessed the impacts.”
Blair Este and Lynne Hibak are among those who moved to the West Saanich yard this afternoon. They’ve been promised a unit in Pacifica Housing and believe they are in the final stages before they acquire it.
“It’s been hard. It’s been two years,” Este said. “I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what we’ve been through.”
The News has reached out to the District of Saanich for comment and will update.
With files from Travis Paterson.