More than 500 homeless campers moved into housing in Vancouver, Victoria but encampments remain
Tents are seen in the parking lot of CRAB Park in Vancouver on Saturday, May 9, 2020.
VANCOUVER -- The province has given an update on its work to move hundreds of people from homeless encampments in Victoria and Vancouver, confirming more than 500 people are now in housing.
The huge task, prompted by health challenges around COVID-19, is expected to come to an end later today — the deadline set by the province to move campers out of encampments in Topaz Park and on Pandora Ave in Victoria. The original date to move those campers was extended to May 20, after originally being set for May 9.
A total of 308 people have now been moved from those two sites in Victoria. Some are staying in hotels, motels, and the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre arena.
In Vancouver, 261 people were moved from Oppenheimer Park into housing earlier this month, according to the province. Many of those campers are now in hotel accommodations with health, hygiene, and addiction supports in place.
“People are moved in, they’re getting settled in, the services are there. The work, which a lot of this work is about building relationships between service providers and the people who are supported,” Social Development Minister Shane Simpson said when asked by CTV News about how the hotel accommodation was working.
“This is a very complex population with significant issues and challenges, and we’re always going to be working with that.”
But while Oppenheimer is clear, not everyone living at the camp is now in indoor housing.
An encampment has popped up on Port of Vancouver land near CRAB Park in downtown Vancouver, and it appears to have grown over the past few weeks.
The Port of Vancouver told the campers they needed to vacate the property, but they have refused to leave. The port has now filed a notice of civil claim as it seeks an injunction and is awaiting a hearing date.
The province says it monitoring the situation and says BC Housing has also moved some of the CRAB Park campers out.
Simpson confirms some campers in Victoria have also refused the indoor housing, and remain camping in other areas of the city.
Still, the province is calling the work a success.
“We’re very confident that this has been the most comprehensive and engaged process of this type that we’ve probably ever seen,” Simpson said.
“I believe it’s been done successfully, it’s been done with compassion, it’s been done with the ultimateconsideration of the campers and of their interests.”