B.C. housing minister pledges shelter spaces for homeless in Victoria parks

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VICTORIA — Homeless people living in Victoria's parks will have shelter spaces by the end of April under a housing agreement between the British Columbia government and the city.

David Eby, B.C.'s minister responsible for housing, says he's found 227 spaces within the city that homeless people can use for shelter, including two new building sites that will be ready for occupancy by April 30.

Victoria's Beacon Hill Park has been the site of a tent encampment of homeless people that has grown during the pandemic, bringing with it crime and community resentment.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says her council is poised to amend its current bylaw that permits 24-hour camping in the park during the pandemic to allow only overnight camping.

Helps says more than 90 per cent of the estimated 200 people camping in city parks have indicated they want to move to an indoor shelter space.

She says the city wanted permanent campers out of the parks by March 31, but council has indicated it is prepared to delay that until May 1.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press