Victoria police get $113K for tent city area presence
Calls from camp area have jumped by almost 50 per cent, police say
The City of Victoria will chip in to help police step up their presence at a long-running homeless camp where violence has escalated in recent weeks.
At a special council meeting Friday, the city approved a plan that will see two officers dedicated to patrolling the area around the camp, which was set up last fall on the lawn of the provincial courthouse.
Since then, more than 100 people have been camping there, and police say calls from that neighbourhood have jumped by almost 50 per cent.
"The surrounding community doesn't feel safe," said acting police chief Del Manak. "We see that. Their concerns are legitimate."
The city's police department has been in talks with the province about who should pay for the extra resources. They say there's been an increase in violence following concerns that people involved in the drug trade have moved in.
As a result, the force drew up a plan to add two officers to the area at a cost of $113,000.
Mayor says province should chip in
Although city council approved the funds, Mayor Lisa Helps called on the province to chip in. The homeless camp is on provincial property.
Helps said the city accepts that it needs to pay for extra policing in the surrounding neighbourhood, but said the province should pay for officers to spend more time inside the tent city.
Police will beef up patrols beginning Saturday morning.
The province has been trying to manage the homeless camp since a bid for an injunction to shut it down failed last month. It does have the option of going back to court if it feels safety at the site has deteriorated.
Housing Minister Rich Coleman has said that option is still on the table.