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."


Latest Canada & World News

  • Niagara police officer charged with assault; man seriously injured during arrest

    Canada News CTV News
    NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. -- The Special Investigations Unit says an assault charge has been laid against a Niagara regional police officer in relation to an arrest in August. The police watchdog agency says officers were sent to a drugstore in Niagara Falls, Ont. Source
  • Police arrest teen in alleged creepy clown assault south of Montreal

    Canada News CTV News
    ST-REMI, Que. -- Quebec provincial police say a teen dressed in a clown costume faces a charge of assault with a weapon after allegedly attacking someone. Police say Wednesday night's event seems to be linked to the phenomenon of creepy clown sightings that have been reported elsewhere in Quebec and across North America. Source
  • Duo nabbed in diamond-swapping theft, as police consider wider spree

    Canada News CBC News
    Jewellers across the country are being warned to check their stock for fake diamonds after a Toronto-area couple were charged in a daring diamond switch that could be connected to a string of similar heists nationwide. Source
  • 'Sniper of Mosul' taking out dozens of ISIS terrorists

    World News Toronto Sun
    ISIS’ top leaders are living in terror of a lone sniper who has killed dozens of jihadists in recent days. The unknown gunman - called the “Sniper of Mosul” - has ramped up his (or her) macabre workload as ISIS’ dreams of a caliphate are obliterated by coalition forces. Source
  • NDP pushes for pipeline inspection reports to be made public in Saskatchewan

    Canada News CTV News
    REGINA -- The Opposition is pushing the Saskatchewan government to release information about oil pipeline inspections. NDP environment critic Cathy Sproule says she asked to see all inspections done on Husky pipelines since 2011, but the request was denied because the government is still investigating an oil spill from a Husky pipeline in July. Source
  • Partisan Twitter bots distorting U.S. presidential candidates' popularity

    World News CBC News
    @loserDonldTrump wasn't born yesterday. It was actually the day before. Just after 3 p.m. ET on October 18, the baby bot burst into the Twitterverse. Someone, somewhere, who is clearly not a fan of the Republican presidential nominee, wrote a piece of code for a Twitter account that would fill people's feeds with anti-Trump messages. Source
  • Postmedia reports quarterly loss of $99.4 million on steep declines in print advertising

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — Postmedia Network Canada Corp., Canada’s largest newspaper company and the owner of this paper, says it intends to reduce staffing costs by 20% after it reported steep declines in revenue and print advertising in the fourth quarter of 2016. Source
  • Woman charged in unsolved 1989 killing

    World News CTV News
    KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A woman has been charged in the death of a 19-year-old woman whose body was found nearly 30 years ago in Kansas City, Kansas. The Wyandotte County District Attorney's office said in a release Thursday that 48-year-old Carolyn J. Source
  • Trudeau’s electoral reform: They love me not, they love me

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Sometimes our prime minister can be so precious that his words can suck the air out of a room. It is breathtaking. As long as Justin Trudeau owns the ball, and he can take that ball home whenever he desires, then it would appear everything in Trudeauland is just hunky-dory. Source
  • Man allegedly choked stranger's baby at Walmart

    World News Toronto Sun
    A man in Kansas City is in custody after allegedly choking a stranger’s baby, according to CBS affiliate KCTV. The incident took place at a Kansas City-area Walmart, where 40-year-old Oleh Zhownirovych,who is now in custody, walked up to a woman who was waiting to check out items and began choking her baby, said the report. Source