Final goodbye to tent city, ramshackle Victoria B.C. camp dismantled
Fences now surround the site where campers lived for almost a year
The provincial government has shut down the tent city that has been occupying the grounds of the provincial court house in Victoria B.C. for nearly a year.
Only a few tents and personal supplies still sit behind a locked fence.
More than 300 residents were either relocated, or offered alternative places to live.
"We have now provided or offered housing to all those who needed it. We were able to bring this situation to a peaceful resolution, and now we can go in and start to clean up the site," said B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman in a statement.
Waiting for shelter space
The provincial government received a court order on July 5 that authorized the removal of campers from the courthouse ground last Monday.
Instead the province decided to wait until enough shelter spaces were available to relocate the people living in tent city.
Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled the encampment was unsafe for those living there and for the residents and businesses in the area.
Volunteers are cleaning and removing the last two unoccupied tents remaining on the site.
"I don't think it could have gone any better, there was a voluntary decampment working right down to the wire last night," said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
"I know it was a painful situation for many people for a long time, but the way it ended up it couldn't have ended better."
More investment coming
Despite the hundreds of tent city campers who now have housing, Helps says the issue of homelessness in Victoria is far from solved.
Tent city was just the beginning.
"There are still people sleeping in doorways who were never at the camp so didn't get on the list. But the good news is there is a collaborative spirit in the region that we have never seen before with everyone at the table," said Helps.
A new agreement between the province and Capital Regional District — pledging $60-million to create affordable housing — is aimed to alleviate the regional problem.
Goodbyes and mementos
Thea Hinks is one of the many volunteers who spent the night packing up and cleaning the site.
She started making meals for campers in December, helping the people there as much as she could.
"We were up to almost four a.m. packing up and stuff," said Hinks.
For some it was an emotional goodbye.
"One guy walked out with a faucet. He mentioned he was going to turn it into some sort of art as a memento of this place," said Hinks.