HEADLINES

CDN: Story In Photos – The Rise And Fail Of Victoria’s Tent City

By Alistair Reign, June 3, 2016. Alistair Reign News Blog.

It was early fall of last year when a few dozen local homeless people pitched tents in order to make a temporary, but permanent shelter. However the story of tent city does not begin at the courthouse lawn, it is the product of a court ruling in 2008, making it a human right to create a safe shelter. Rightly so!

In October 2008, the B.C. Supreme Court declared Victoria’s bylaws of no force and effect insofar and only insofar as they apply to prevent homeless people from erecting temporary shelter.” [01] Victoria challenged the trial court’s judgment, arguing that the judge had erred in finding that the bylaws violated section 7 of the Charter.

On December 9, 2009 the City of Victoria lost its appeal in Victoria (City) v. Adams[02] Victoria had hoped to overturn a 2008 decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court which declared two of the City’s bylaws unconstitutional due to a violation of section 7 – “life, liberty, and security of the person” – of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. [03]

The judgment of the Court of Appeal does not grant the homeless a right to have shelters built for them. Moreover, it allows the City of Victoria to prohibit overhead shelter in parks when there are enough shelter beds for all the homeless in Victoria.

In other words, at a time when there are enough shelter beds for the entire homeless population of Victoria, the bylaws can revert to their original wording and will be considered constitutional.

Beacon Hill Park became a popular location for homeless people to set up a shelter for the night, and as long as the person cleared out their campsite in the morning, their presence was not an intrusion on tourism, and the public was not hindered from enjoying the park during regular park hours.

What started as a peaceful community of local people camping on the park adjacent the courthouse (many whose faces I recognize from having seen them in various places around town for many years), was eventually taken over by non-resident-homeless; is such a thing even possible?

tent-city-in-victoria.JPG early daystent city early arrivals.jpg 6tent city early arrivals.jpg 3

tent city early stages-Courthouse-Camp-e1448934867450tent city early arrivals.jpg 4.JPG 5men sitting out side a tent

tent city early arrivalstent city early arrivals.jpg 2

Once word was out that people could camp out in downtown Victoria, people arriving “homeless” started showing up from across Canada, and as far away as Europe, to join what has come to be known as the “Intent protest against homelessness” movement.

It is an old adage – give a person an inch – they will take a mile.

A countless number of people have arrived in Victoria to support the local homeless – by using their space and draining the city’s resources, along with our charities’ kindness – has enable them to stay in Victoria without having to secure a job or apartment like the rest of us living in Victoria. Pretty damn sweet deal for folks who enjoy camping!

Residents at the homeless play music around the sacred fire in Victoria, B.C., Tuesday, April 5, 2016 following the injunction ruling that will allow residents to stay at Super InTent City through to September when they'll go back to supreme court. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolitotent wacko infotel

victoria-homeless-camp. 2016Tents, tarps and pallets cover the ground in a park next to the court house (at rear) in downtown Victoria on March 5, 2016. The tent city, taking advantage of a law that allows camping on provincially owned land, was initally created to draw attention to the homeless. The city and province have since created enough housing to house the campers but a number are now refusing to leave. The province has gone to the courts asking to evict the remaining campers. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Don Denton

It only took a couple of months for Victoria’s homeless to become surrounded and overwhelmed by the masses arriving with their tents, dogs, bikes, wooden crates and shopping carts overflowing with personal belongings.

tent city guy walking in campvictoria-tent-city fire hazardtentcity view all tops of tents

I am not exaggerating when I say that I have seen photos of war refugee camp with tents of over 10,000 people that looked safer and cleaner than our own provincial capital’s courthouse yard with a mere 100 people.

vka-tentcity-635-jpgvictoria-tent-city

Over the winter and spring violent gangs have occupied and even fenced off tent city as their personal ghetto in the city – where they are all living for free – thanks to our Hon. wishy-washy Mayor and always absent Premiere Clark (she learned everything she knows from Harper – hide and hope the whole thing blows over before they find you).

Tent-City-Stabbing-e1451007436310bc-tentcity with police officer5-Tent-City-Assault-stabbing

In my estimation, there is only one of two scenarios taking place on the courthouse lawn.

tent-city looking gloomy evictions24nw1tent city CHRISTCHURCH-e1448851475446

Scenario one: The disabled,  elderly and mentally vulnerable homeless people are still in the camp because they were not given housing or shelter; and are trapped by circumstances and living among the predatory gangs and unstable drug addicts occupying the campgrounds. *Shame on us.

Scenario two: The only people left occupying the courthouse grounds have chosen to decline housing, shelter or hospital, in which case, they have to take responsibility for their choice to remain homeless. *Shame not on us.

Either way, the courthouse yard should be cleared of fences and structures, and returned to its former status as a park for all of the public to enjoy.

tent city group speakingA view of the Christ Cathedral Church overlooking tent city before the block party at the camp in Victoria, B.C., Thursday, February 25, 2016. Supporters came over from Vancouver and Abbotsford during the planned soft eviction day to lend their support. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolitotent city get together. is my home

I suggest a more appropriate name for Tent City is B&B City Sleep and eat for free in downtown Victoria – home of the free-for-all.

🔝


Send inquiries and requests for permission to re-blog article to Alistair.Reign@Gmail.com, thank you.

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