The BC government, in partnership with BC Housing, has purchased another hotel in downtown Victoria.
The province confirmed on Wednesday it acquired the Capital City Center Hotel – located at 1961 Douglas Street – for roughly $25 million to use as temporary housing for nearly 100 people, the province announced Wednesday.
The purchase also includes two adjacent parking lots at 722 and 726 Discovery Street.
The province had been leasing 83 of the 96 suites since April of last year, however, dozens of tenants were displaced in November following a large fire at the facility. A man, who was a guest at the hotel, was arrested and charged with arson with disregard for human life, and arson causing property damage.
BC Housing will convert 94 of the hotel‘s 96 rooms into temporary supportive housing units.
“The purchase of this hotel creates stable housing options now and opportunities for rental housing in the future that will serve people in Victoria for decades,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing.
“Because this hotel is now in public ownership, the almost 100 people who are safely housed with supports now can breathe a sigh of relief – they won’t have to move at the end of the lease. Even better is the news that this site will be the location for even more affordable rental housing in the future.”
The current residents of the building will be allowed to remain and the vacant units will be used to house those living outdoors at Beacon Hill Park. Two units will be used for administrative purposes.
Our Place will continue to operate the temporary shelter, as it has been since last October, according to the province.
BC Housing plans to redevelop both the hotel and parking lot to create additional rental housing and the community will get to provide their feedback when the properties are ready to be redeveloped.
As of this Saturday, the City of Victoria will begin to enforce the daytime camping ban at local parks.
The bylaw will return to pre-covid guidelines, which allow 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.
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 impacts of this pandemic have exposed cracks in our social safety net,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps in a statement Wednesday. “Nowhere has this been more visible than in the individuals at risk of or experiencing homelessness.”
“This land acquisition helps people in need now, but it is also a prime site for redevelopment for purpose-built rental housing in the longer term,” Helps said.