Saanich police say they are not authorized to remove a new tent city encampment near Uptown where residing residents are showing a “significantly more confrontational tone.”
After the residents of tent city spent Thursday night in nearby Rudd Park, camp activists organized a rally through the Uptown-Douglas corridor on Friday night.
Around 100 people marched through the streets with cries of “homes not hate”, in order to protest Saanich and the BC Supreme Court’s order to disperse the people who had set up camp in Regina Park.
The rally came to an end in a vacant lot of provincial land at Ravine Way and Carey Road, where the group is now located.
In a release, Saanich police said they noticed the new encampment become increasingly entrenched overnight and throughout the course of the day and that large quantities of furniture and materials were being delivered to the site.
The park is about 500 meters away from Regina Park.
To this point, the Ministry of Transportation has not authorized police to enforce the Trespass Act and remove the encampment from the property.
“From the evidence we’ve seen, over the course of the 5+month encampment at Regina Park, there was a large increase in criminal activity which mostly involved property crime and persons offences. Please know that our officers are conducting increased patrols in the neighbourhood,” said Saanich police Sgt. Jereme Leslie.
The group is also showing a significantly more confrontational tone at the new location, according to the release.
On Saturday morning, camp leaders and occupants hosted a press conference that was broadcast live on the Facebook page called ‘Camp Namegans’.
The main purpose of the press conference was for the group to proclaim themselves as an urban reserve named ‘Namegans Nation’.
“Yesterday we showed that we were able to survive like we have over the last number of centuries despite settlers coming in and telling us what we can and can’t do on our land,” says camp founder Chrissy Brett in the video.
“We’ve moved here to provincial land, and we’re no longer Camp Namegans, but we’re Namegans Nation. So we’re claiming this as the first urban reserve here in British Columbia.”
There were about 25 tents at the location as of Saturday night.
Police are strongly encouraging to call their non-emergency number if you see something suspicious, or to report a crime that has occurred no matter how minor you think it might be.
With files from Brishti Basu