The City of Victoria will take what it’s calling a “compassionate” approach to enforcing the bylaw restricting daytime camping in public parks which comes into effect next week.
Victoria says the bylaw won’t be enforced on people sheltering in parks who have accepted an offer to move indoors as they await their shelter space to be ready.
As of May 1, people living in public parks will have to pack up all of their belongings, including their tent, every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those who don’t accept the offer for an indoor shelter space will be subject to the bylaw.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the enforcement strategy will support the transition to permanent housing for people who have accepted an indoor space.
“That includes taking a compassionate, tailored approach to bylaw enforcement until their new homes are ready to move into,” she said in a statement.
Bylaw officers will give people who have accepted an indoor space time to move, help people downsize and pack their belongings into totes and help them move when their space is ready.
Bylaw officers will be able to impound the tents or shelters of those who don’t accept the offer to move into a transitional housing location and don’t pack up during the day as of May 1. People will be able to get their items back from Bylaw Services.
“Sheltering in parks is a humanitarian crisis. Council would like to see the people currently living outside take the indoor transitional housing opportunities they are offered,” Helps said. “Staff have put together a thoughtful, graduated approach to bylaw enforcement that recognizes individual needs while ensuring that the bylaw prohibiting daytime sheltering is enforced.”
The city says 114 people who were sheltering outside have moved inside since February. A Victoria West transitional housing location will open the first week of May and spaces at the Tiny Homes Village near Royal Athletic Park will start housing people the following week. The city says these locations will be able to house 100 people and BC Housing will begin offering spots this week.
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