Victoria homeless camp stages block party on planned eviction day

VICTORIA -- Homeless campers on the grounds of Victoria's courthouse staged a block party Thursday as they faced eviction from a tent city where more than 100 people have lived for months.

See Full Article

The party got off to a rough start as police cars arrived with sirens blaring to investigate a disturbance at one of the tents at the camp.

Police were not commenting about an alleged assault.

The B.C. government gave campers a Feb. 25 deadline earlier this month to move, but police and the province say they'd prefer people to leave voluntarily for shelters as opposed to a forced eviction.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman said some campers were packing up for shelters that the province has provided and that the situation at the camp will be monitored over the coming days.

"There's about 50 people who've accepted housing, so they'll be moving off and we'll measure it over the weekend to see how it's going," he said.

"We've got enough housing for everybody down there, so they don't have an excuse to not come inside but they also live in a free country, so they don't have to come inside."

In recent weeks, the government and social agencies have reached deals on housing for up to 230 people, with shelter space at a former Boys and Girls Club, a seniors' residence and a vacant youth jail.

The camp grew from a few tents last spring to dozens as people from alleyways and parks moved to the highly visible manicured grounds of the downtown courthouse.

On Thursday, a placard outside the camp advertised a block party featuring guest speakers and people from other homeless camps in B.C.

But few people were packing Thursday ahead of the block party.

Benjamin Alexander, 30, from Quebec, was among those who were leaving. He said he is moving to the former youth jail after living at the courthouse camp for almost two months.

Alexander said he considered living in city parks after several confrontations at shelters and the camp, including a beating in which he lost a front tooth and suffered injuries to his face.

"Look at my tooth, somebody punched me," he said. "Look at my face. Everyday, they are like a wolf pack. You have trouble with one, you have trouble with everybody. I'm getting not psycho, but close to it."

Coleman said he's most concerned about helping the campers get housing and providing support services for people with addictions and mental health issues, not provoking encounters with protesters.

"Whatever they want to do, block party or whatever. It makes no difference here because the only people I'm concerned about are the people who need help the most."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Several Atlantic fisheries closed due to presence of two right whales

    Canada News CTV News
    MONCTON, N.B. -- Federal authorities are closing several fisheries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence because of the presence of North Atlantic right whales. In a statement posted on Twitter, Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc says two of the severely endangered animals have been spotted off the coast of New Brunswick. Source
  • Ontario New Democrats forced to admit to annual $1.4-billion costing error

    Canada News CTV News
    PETERBOROUGH, Ont. -- Ontario's New Democrats, often accused of fiscal incompetence, made a $1.4-billion annual costing mistake in their election platform, the party's leader was forced to admit on Sunday. The miscounting of a $700-million annual reserve fund as revenue rather than as an expense will affect deficit projections for several years, Leader Andrea Horwath conceded. Source
  • Victims of alleged LSD brainwashing experiments in Montreal plan to file lawsuit

    Canada News CTV News
    Survivors and families of those who allegedly underwent brainwashing experiments at McGill University in Montreal are planning a class-action lawsuit against the Quebec and federal governments because of what they claim had been done to them decades ago. Source
  • Kayakers take Kinder Morgan protest offshore in U.S.

    Canada News CBC News
    More than 200 kilometres south of where the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is slated to end, environmental groups in the U.S. took to the water in Seattle on Sunday to add their voices to ongoing opposition to the project. Source
  • Sask. couple swept away by B.C. mountain landslide can't believe they're alive

    Canada News CBC News
    Saskatchewan couple Sheri Niemegeers and Gabe Rosescu do not remember much after the wall of mud and trees came hurtling down a steep mountain pass toward their vehicle. But, according to Rosescu's sister Andrea, they both recall the split second when they realized they were in the path of a landslide. Source
  • Cyclists near Seattle tried to scare cougar but it attacked, killing 1

    World News CTV News
    SEATTLE - The two mountain bikers did what they were supposed to do when they noticed a mountain lion tailing them on a trail east of Seattle. They got off their bikes. They faced the beast, shouted and tried to spook it. Source
  • 'I could have ID'd him': Woman says Dominican resort didn't investigate claim that she was raped by staffer

    Canada News CBC News
    A Toronto-area woman says she is going public to warn travellers, after a security guard at a Dominican Republic resort raped her and the hotel "did nothing" to investigate — an occurrence she believes is all too common. Source
  • Canadian vacationers stranded in Cuba following plane crash

    Canada News CTV News
    In the wake of a horrific plane crash in Cuba that claimed the lives of 110 people, dozens of Canadians are now stranded in the country, wondering when they will be able to fly home. Source
  • Police video shows harrowing escapes from California fires

    World News CTV News
    SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Chaotic police body-camera footage from last year's deadly wildfires in Northern California's wine country shows officers running door-to-door urging people to flee and rescuing elderly residents of a retirement community as flames bear down, according to a newspaper report Sunday. Source
  • Toronto woman dead after canoe tips over on Lake Couchiching in Orillia, Ont.

    Canada News CTV News
    ORILLIA, Ont. - Provincial police say a 25-year-old woman from Toronto is dead after the canoe she was in flipped over on a lake in Orillia, Ont. Emergency crews responded to the incident at around noon today and transported the woman to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Source