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

  • India, Afghanistan urge regional neighbours to end terror support

    World News CTV News
    NEW DELHI -- The leaders of India and Afghanistan on Sunday urged countries in their region to stop supporting armed militants. Representatives of nearly two dozen countries met in the northern Indian city of Amritsar as part of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process initiative to promote Afghan peace efforts. Source
  • Castro's ashes arrive at cemetery for interment

    World News CTV News
    SANTIAGO, Cuba - This is the latest on the funeral of Fidel Castro in Santiago, Cuba. (All times local): 7:20 a.m. The crowds lining the road into the cemetery for Fidel Castro's funeral are singing Cuba's National Anthem and shouting "Viva Fidel!" Source
  • Jill Stein taking bid for election recount to federal court

    World News CTV News
    HARRISBURG, Pa. - Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is taking her bid for a statewide recount of Pennsylvania's Nov. 8 presidential election to federal court. A lawyer in the recount case said "make no mistake -- the Stein campaign will continue to fight for a statewide recount. Source
  • Iraqi government ferrying relief supplies to Mosul

    World News CTV News
    MOSUL, Iraq -- The Iraqi government on Sunday sent truckloads of food, heating oil and drinking water to residents of areas retaken from the Islamic State group in and around the northern city of Mosul as more civilians streamed out of the city amid intense fighting between the militants and troops. Source
  • Putin confident Trump will make responsible decisions

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is confident that President-elect Donald Trump will soon realize the level of responsibility his job entails. Despite Trump's pro-Russian statements during the campaign, Russian politicians are concerned about reports that Trump is considering Mitt Romney, known for his harsh stance on Russia, to be his secretary of state. Source
  • Fidel Castro's remains set to be interred in private ceremony

    World News CBC News
    The cremated remains of Fidel Castro will be interred at a Santiago de Cuba cemetery this morning during a private ceremony, marking the end of the nine-day national mourning period established after the former leader's death. Source
  • Teen charged after classmate's dismembered body found near river

    World News Toronto Sun
    LAWRENCE, Mass. — A 16-year-old has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the death of his 16-year-old classmate whose headless body was found near the Merrimack River in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said Mathew Borges was arrested Saturday morning. Source
  • Buzz Aldrin: Altitude sickness forced South Pole evacuation

    World News Toronto Sun
    CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Buzz Aldrin said he was evacuated from the South Pole last week because he became short of breath and began showing signs of altitude sickness. The 86-year-old adventurer, who was the second man to walk on the moon, released details on Sunday of his dramatic medical evacuation from Antarctica. Source
  • Oakland warehouse gutted by blaze was Bohemian art space

    World News CTV News
    OAKLAND, Calif. -- The warehouse gutted by a blaze that killed at least nine people was home to musicians, painters, woodworkers, dancers and other artists who came together to make art and hold dance performances and parties. Source
  • Architect Frank Gehry 'very worried' about Donald Trump

    World News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Frank Gehry was recently honoured by Barack Obama at the White House, but the celebrated Canadian-born architect isn't too thrilled with the man next in line for the U.S. presidency: Donald Trump. Less than two weeks after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- America's highest civilian honour -- the California-based Gehry was back in his hometown of Toronto on Saturday for a discussion about his life and work. Source