Tent camp on the lawn next to the Victoria courthouse has become packed to capacity

Tent camp on the lawn next to the Victoria courthouse has become packed to capacity

Care home, jail to house Victoria tent campers

Tent campers react angrily to Housing Minister Rich Coleman's offer of 88 spaces at Mount Edward Court, grounds of youth custody centre

The B.C. government has confirmed plans to house up to 88 campers on the Victoria courthouse lawn in temporary “transitional housing and shelter” at a vacant downtown care home and a mostly empty provincial youth custody centre in View Royal.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman announced Friday the province has bought the Mount Edwards Court Care Home at 1002 Vancouver St. for $3.65 million, and will open 38 units to occupants of the tent camp “for approximately 12 months” with units rented for $375 a month.

Another 50 “shelter units” are to be opened at the Victoria Youth Custody Centre, with both to be open by Feb. 23. Occupants there will be provided with three meals a day and have the option of camping in the courtyard, which has space for about 20 tents, for up to six months.

The Mount Edwards proposal has sparked strong neighbourhood opposition, with residents refused information or input even as construction crews began renovating the ground floor. The building is across Rockland Avenue from the Christ Church Cathedral elementary and middle school, which like the surrounding area has been littered with needles, feces and trash since the tent camp sprang up next to the courthouse late last year.

Campers are to be offered on-site health care at Mount Edwards shelter, operated by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, which runs Victoria drop-in and housing services.

Campers reacted angrily to letters handed out by provincial officials Friday morning, saying they weren’t consulted and they plan to stay put. Coleman said people camping illegally on public property don’t have a right to make further demands.

“If people are camping and saying they’re homeless, not a lot of consultation needs to take place,” he said.

Neighbours have spoken out about the proposed long-term plan for Mount Edwards, to house up to 101 people in “low barrier” housing that tolerates alcohol and drug use. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps has said a permanent facility would require rezoning to go ahead.

Coleman denied that a permanent Mount Edwards facility is a done deal, and promised that consultation and a rezoning would be done before any long-term use of the building is determined. The shelter and medical use “probably fits within the existing zoning,” he said.

Asked if drug and alcohol use will be condoned at the Mount Edwards site, Coleman said once people are residents of the units, they will not be subject to interference into what they do in their own homes.

 

Just Posted

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-week-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

Most Read