Victoria city council have voted in favour to end daytime camping in parks on May 1st, as more people are moved into new indoor shelters.
The decision comes amid the BC Government announcement last week that it had secured two buildings in Victoria to move all unsheltered people living in parks by the end of April.
The bylaw will return to pre-covid guidelines, which allows campers to stay at select parks from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day.
“It has been a challenging year since the pandemic amplified the realities of homelessness, and having people sheltering in parks has not been ideal for anyone,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.
“With a commitment from the Province that everyone is being offered indoor options as a pathway to permanent housing by the end of April, people will have the supports they need and the city parks can be restored to their pre-pandemic use.”
When the pandemic was declared last year, the city amended the parks regulation bylaw to allow people experiencing homelessness to remain in parks 24 hours a day.
In addition, the city also plans to amend the parks bylaw for Cecelia Ravine Park, Centennial Square, and Central Park, to prohibited camping at all times, including overnight.
The City of Victoria says the process of helping people move inside is actively underway. So far, since the beginning of March, 116 people have moved inside from parks and other outdoor areas.
The goal to move all unsheltered people living in parks into housing by the end of March was delayed until the end of April, after two buildings were secured to house them.
While the two locations will provide enough shelter space for those living in parks, both buildings require retrofitting.
The locations of the buildings will be released at a later date.
“Although we had hoped to secure additional buildings that were ready to go for housing, and BC Housing chased down several leads, we didn’t get lucky,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing.
“We’ll need the extra weeks to prepare the two new secured sites for use as shelter before moving folks inside.”