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

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Meet Your Candidates: Oak Bay candidates outline the issues

Deer, infrastructure and more among top concerns

Homeless Action Week: Our Place Society asking for blankets, sleeping bags

The fundraiser is off to a slow start as the days get colder

Victoria among Top 10 sunniest Canadian cities

Victoria ranks 6th in sunny days per year

Video: An up-close look at beluga whales in Hudson Bay

An up-close look as some belugas greet whale watchers off the coast of Churchill, Manitoba

Advance voting begins Oct. 10 in Greater Victoria

The polls open at 8 a.m. for the 2018 municipal election with the general election taking place Oct. 20

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

NHL players say Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t impact them

NHL players say the legalization of marijuana in Canada won’t change how they go about their business.

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

Internal government documents show that more than one million jobs could be lost to automated vehicles, with ripple effects far beyond the likeliest professions.

ELECTION 2018: Vancouver Island politician ending unprecedented 40-year run

Mike Kokura served on the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board since 1972

Private marijuana stores should shut down, Mike Farnworth says

B.C. has approved 62 licences, but they still need local approval

Court finds that company was ‘careless’ in cutting down 45 trees near Nanaimo

Western Canadian Timber Products ordered to pay $80,000 to private landowners

Most Read