Chrissy Brett, here seen at Goldstream Park in Langford in late September, questions why the Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC) is changing the terms of an arrangement to house 25 people. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Homeless leader wants Saanich shelter to accommodate entire tent city group

Chrissy Brett questions why Victoria Native Friendship Centre could choose to scatter tent city residents

The executive director of a Saanich-area cold weather shelter says he is expecting to fill 25 spaces that will open up on Oct. 1, but all of those spaces won’t necessarily be filled with homeless campers from Camp Namegans currently living at Goldstream Park.

Ron Rice, executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC), said Monday morning he is not sure how many people from the homeless camp will end up at the Saanich facility.

Some 2,000 homeless people currently live in Greater Victoria and the West Shore camp represents a small fraction of it, he said. While it has drawn a lot of attention in symbolizing the larger issue, shelters need to take a look at the bigger picture instead of focusing on only a small section of the greater homeless population.

RELATED: Cold weather shelters in Victoria to open Oct. 1

Rice plans to meet with officials from other shelters around the region to discuss the best way forward, as the camp in Goldstream Park must move again this week after the province gave a deadline of Oct. 1.

Some shelters will able to accommodate couples, others will take in people with pets and there are still some others that are able to fulfill more different needs, Rice added.

He made these comments after leadership of the homeless camp in Goldstream Park publicly questioned the provincial government’s commitment to finding a longterm solution, as to why 25 people currently staying together in a provincial campground would not be allowed to stay together in a shelter.

Chrissy Brett, one of the camp leaders,wondered Sunday why the VNFC has expressed concerns about housing those 25 people from Goldstream Park.

RELATED: Tent city holds a rally in front of Goldstream Park campground

Camp Namegans, as the tent city describes itself, posted to its Facebook page Sunday morning that the provincial government had offered in writing to shelter or house 25 out of 34 people staying at the camp on Thursday.

This was to be part of an agreement with the provincial government that gave campers until Monday to vacate the park.

According to the post, the VNFC later expressed concern with housing that many people from the camp in one place.

RELATED: Westshore residents hold forum to voice frustration with Goldstream Park homeless camp

“Right now, we are being offered 19 shelter mats,” the posting reads. “The NDP is lying when it says that it is housing campers.”

Brett wondered why the homeless shelter has chosen to break up what she called the “Namegans family.”

“How can a homeless shelter say I’m too scared of those 25 homeless people, so I’ll take 10 and then scatter the rest to even…even less healthy shelters?” she said.

She said this development is detrimental for individuals, who need proper indoor housing, “not a rubber mat on a gym floor, where couples can’t sleep besides each other, and pets [are] not allowed.”

RELATED: Victoria organization says homelessness needs to be seen through an Indigenous lens

Rice said Brett’s comments are inaccurate and the VNFC is deciding today how many people they will accept.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

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

Just Posted

Area residents concerned about aftermath of McKenzie interchange construction

Ministry says neighbours’ concerns being heard, will be addressed

West Shore’s 10 worst intersections for crashes in 2019

Millstream Road, Veterans Memorial Parkway area continues to be a hotspot

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Saanich council seeks more information after hearing Uptown-Douglas plan

Council asks for further reports on economic, housing, transportation plans for corridor

Man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near Vancouver Island mall

RCMP in Parksville report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Most Read