Beacon Hill Park, Topaz Park and the Royal Athletic Park will become temporary sites for the homeless in efforts to try to limit spread of COVID-19. (Black Press file photo)

Beacon Hill, Topaz, Royal Athletic parks to open as temporary sites for the homeless

Victoria announced formalized camps to help combat spread of COVID-19

The City of Victoria is opening up three parks as temporary sites for the area’s homeless population in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently many shelters have closed or limited their capacities, and parks and playgrounds have also been closed, causing people to gather along the 900-block of Pandora Avenue.

In response, Victoria will allow people to set up temporary shelters in Beacon Hill Park and Topaz Park. In addition, BC Housing, the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, the Dandelion Society and Island Health will be working together to monitor the parks, and ensure that the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 is available to people. Hand washing stations, bathrooms and access to meals will also be made available.

ALSO READ: Outdoor recreation facilities close across Greater Victoria due to COVID-19

The City of Victoria will also shift Royal Athletic Park at 1014 Caledonia Ave. into an outdoor shelter space for the most vulnerable members of the homeless population, including those with mental and physical health care needs.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps announced to the public on March 23 that all involved parties are working to ensure that none of the parks transform into tent cities, as have been seen near the BC Court House and in Saanich in previous years, ensuring that structures will be installed and staff will be on site to ensure proper social distancing and cleanliness.

In addition, BC Housing has purchased the property at 938 Mason St. and will temporarily use the site as a triage centre and COVID-19 test site for Victoria’s homeless population.

Campers will be allowed in Topaz and Beacon Hill parks immediately, while the Royal Athletic Park is set to open as soon as possible, with the aim to be open by the end of the week.

ALSO READ: Victoria harbour authority closes Ogden Point walkway to the public

In the meantime, handwashing stations and bathrooms will also be set up along Pandora Avenue until populations are better distributed through the other parks.

Helps noted that more facilities may open in the near future, depending on what the province wants to do; during a provincial emergency the government has the power to take over any municipal facilities.

“We are all in this together. Some populations in our community don’t have the same options the rest of us do to stay safe, healthy and self-isolate at this time in accordance with the Chief Health Officer’s directions,” said Helps. “That’s why we’re working with all of our partners and looking at every option, to ensure everyone has the best chance at not spreading the COVID-19 virus. We all need to do our part: stay home, maintain physical distance with others when outside, and comply with the directives public health officials.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

CoronavirusHomelesshomeless housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Immigrants face language, financial barriers during crisis

Citizenship events halted, permanent residency applications still being processed

Langford mandates all businesses take new steps to prevent spread of COVID-19

Failure to use masks, create social distancing cues, could result in $500 fine after April 20

Mental Health: Stigma leads to a life on the streets

People with severe mental illness disproportionately impacted by homelessness

Sooke School District students permitted to retrieve only essentials from lockers

Essential items include medical devices, medicine, learning devices

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

VIDEO: Community rallies around Campbell River fire victims

Emergency Social Services volunteers logged over 100 hours in first day after fire

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan, amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Most Read