Jun 25: What looming government decision means for people living outside

On June 25 ‘victoria’ city council will be deciding whether to go back to enforcement of their parks bylaw that, as current written, bans daytime sheltering (forcing people to pack up their tents at 7 AM every day, and not set back up again till 8 PM — 7 PM in winter). The stress and anxiety about the potential for this “7-to7” displacement to start again has been really hard on people who will be directly impacted…especially at MEEGAN (beaconhill) where people have also been dealing with NIMBY hate. But Council never asks people living outside for their input, they haven’t even bothered to respond to a letter from unhoused people sent on June 4.

We asked people living in parks what they wanted people to know about the situation. This is what they said.

DREADING being in the rain all day

The positive of us being able to stay here is because us becoming homeless is solely because we had a bad hand dealt to us, and unfortunately we have most of our stuff with us. A storage unit isn’t really even in the cards, but we’re gonna be looking at one now because we’re in fear of the 7-7 thing again but it’s not like we can even afford a storage room. I’m lucky that I could even find a storage room that accepts debit cards or cash, because I don’t have a credit card and most places you need one.

Housed people have the choice if it’s raining not to go outside. We don’t have that choice. We have to tear down in the rain. Which means we have to put our tent away and everything away wet. Which means it becomes moldy. Now I have asthma and I know other people that are allergic to mold, that’s a big thing. It’s dangerous. And we have a cat, what are we supposed to do with him when we have to tear down and set up in the rain? Oh there are definite worries and anxieties especially with things ramping up. I can’t set up our tent in the rain, it’s going to make all our belongings wet, then we have to put them in the tent. So we’re gonna be sleeping back in doorways with our cat. And we’ll have to sleep in shifts to keep each other safe.

SERVICE CLOSURES make it harder than before

The fact that services aren’t open definitely affect things. I mean, it’s not always the fact that things aren’t open, but what is open is restricting us. Nearby places that do have outlets only let us charge things for 15 minutes, which if you’re lucky gives you 5% battery on your phone, enough to call your parents and be like “Hi mom and dad I’m safe I’m ok” and then it dies.

fear of vigilantes

We’ve seen comments and posts on Facebook and there’s one person who was talking about getting a group of people together to come down to the park to “beat the crap out of us”. So for the past few nights we’ve been worried that we’ll have to call 911 for something like that.

A random car drove up to my tent, and started taking photos. This has happened many times in the past month. I went up to ask if the person needed anything, and at that point the driver took off their hat and put on some sort of ‘police hat’, not sure if it was a VicPD hat or otherwise. What does that mean, am I being watched / threatened by someone impersonating a cop, is someone there as an off-duty cop, what is going on? I was pretty concerned and called the cops, who didn’t come to the scene.

meegan is the only place that is workable

At least here we have the option of social distancing. If we can’t be set up here, then we have to be downtown where there’s more people. If we have to move out in the boonies, then we don’t have access to food, water, outreach mental health.

For the last four years, cops have chased us out of downtown and told us to camp at Beacon Hill Park. Now they’re telling us we have to leave here. You think I choose to be eaten by bugs every night? You think I choose not to have a bathroom and shower every night?

people don’t understand how hard this is

I’d rather string up in that tree above where we’re camping if they force us to move under the 7-7. It’s hard enough being on the street without having to move every day. There’s nowhere open and nowhere to store our stuff and carrying it everyday isn’t an option. We already have neck and back problems.

Maybe we should give them the deadline of the 25th to get their act together and offer us adequate housing.

let council know what you think

You can reach the Mayor and Council at the following addresses: mayor@victoria.ca; malto@victoria.ca; sdubow@victoria.ca; bisitt@victoria.ca; jloveday@victoria.ca; spotts@victoria.ca; cthornton-joe@victoria.ca; gyoung@victoria.ca

Computer : cats
Photo of a cat wearing glasses and a bowtie, scowling at the computer. Because cats don’t like it when politicians hurt people.

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