When Deb Brisebois arrived at the new community services tent off Beacon Hill Park Monday morning, she was looking for a tent for a friend.
Within minutes she emerged with a two-person tent, a tarp and a stove.
“The things that people take the time to donate are all things that we need to survive,” she said. “It’s blankets, clothes, propane, tents, stoves … we need those things. We can’t acquire them ourselves.”
Brisebois and her husband have lived in Beacon Hill Park for several years after losing their home. She says the community tent provides some stability for those living outside in the area.
“Anytime I need something I seem to be able to come to them,” she said. “You can count on them. So I think it will continue to be a positive process.”
The community tent was installed near the corner of Dallas Road and Cook Street Saturday after months of back and fourth with the City of Victoria. Originally installed in late October near the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, the tent was dismantled by police and bylaw officers in November.
Soon after, Victoria council began discussing options for reinstating the tent. On Jan. 18 a new tent was set up in the park and on Saturday was moved to its new location off Cook Street.
The tent is operated through an emergency grant created by the city of Victoria from federal and provincial funding to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. An operating permit was granted to the Red Cedar Cafe.
Organizers are still unpacking and setting up but say they have plans to set up a warming tent, a crisis tent and a supply tent offering food, coffee, sleeping bags, tarps and other supplies.
Organizer Anthony Bryan said the move is bittersweet. The tent could better serve the community from inside the park, he said, but now that it’s regulated there’s no fear of having to take everything down.
Bryan says so far, people in the area don’t seem to mind the tent, and donations started arriving the same day they were setting up. He encourages people to stop by.
“Come on down. Come grab a coffee with us. Come chat with us. We’re here for the community. We are the community, and we’re here for you.”