After the BC Supreme Court granted an injunction ordering campers at Saanich’s tent city to leave Regina Park by September 11th, occupants of the camp have been preparing to move to a new location.
Although the deadline for people to move out of the park was 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, many campers remained there as of Wednesday morning.
Saanich police have stated in a press release that “any persons remaining in Regina Park are currently in violation of the BC Supreme Court Order. As this injunction is a lawful order, the Saanich Police Department is required by law to enforce this order.”
In response, campers stated that the district of Saanich promised them moving bins, which are not expected to arrive on Thursday morning.
In the meantime, police have moved their command vehicle to the entrance of the park to monitor access. They expect to remain on site until all campers have left the premises.
“We’re hoping those still encamped there will leave voluntarily,” reads a tweet from Saanich PD.
We’ve moved our #Saanich command vehicle to Regina Park. In order to enforce the BC Supreme Court order entrance/access to the park is now limited to authorized people. We’re hoping those still encamped there will leave voluntarily. pic.twitter.com/I6Lt1h9UMN
— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) September 12, 2018
The District of Saanich has begun installing fencing around Regina Park so “remediation work can begin”. Once campers have left, the city will begin addressing fire risks and other hazards in the park.
“We will continue to treat the vulnerable persons vacating the park with dignity and care through the decampment process,” says Saanich police Sgt. Jereme Leslie.
“It is recognized that many of the occupants will require assistance to vacate the park and we are conducting a phased approach to supporting the occupants in complying with the injunction.”
Tent city residents respond
Several reports indicate that the residents of tent city are currently looking at another place to move to, and online sources suggest the new location may be Gorge Park.
Nevertheless, advocates and activists argue that dispersing the homeless population in Regina Park only exacerbates the stigma surrounding poverty, and does little to address the real issue.
To neighbors who are celebrating the forceful displacement of 100+ homeless people: this is the very definition of nimbysm. Where do you think camp residents are going? They won’t be in your backyard anymore but homelessness is not going away.
— Marilou Gagnon RNPhD (@mlgagnon_XVII) September 12, 2018
In response to the Supreme Court ruling, residents of the Saanich tent city dubbed ‘Camp Namegans’, are planning to host a “Nowhere to Go Rally!” in Regina Park this Friday.
According to the event description, the rally is to protest the “normalization of homelessness in BC” and is expected to take place on Friday, September 14th, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
However this location seems improbable as Saanich puts up fencing along the perimeter of the park, and the police department command vehicle will be stationed at the entrance.