THE Province and the City of Victoria have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that formalizes their commitment to work together to end current homeless encampments and help prevent encampments in the future.
“We’ve gotten to the beginning of the end of this crisis by working constructively with Victoria on really difficult issues,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, on Monday. “After we reach our shared goal of getting those living in parks and ravines inside, that intergovernmental work and co-operation cannot stop. If this agreement helps us keep momentum, we will succeed not just in preventing encampments, but in housing vulnerable people with dignity on an ongoing basis.”
Lisa Helps, Mayor, City of Victoria, said: “When shelters had to close beds due to the pandemic, people were forced to seek shelter wherever they could find it, including our parks. We’re grateful for the Province’s leadership, for the tremendous investments we’ve been seeing in housing for our region, and we are committed to doing all we can to support efforts to house people who are vulnerable. We know this is good for the entire community.”
The MOU clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the Province and city in securing accommodation for people currently living outside to decamp parks and other public spaces by April 30.
As part of the MOU, the city will take the lead on managing sites when encampments are dismantled, in co-ordination with BC Housing and other partners. This includes installing fencing and providing bylaw enforcement to prevent people from moving back into parks. The city will also apply for funding through the new Strengthening Communities’ Services Program, which offers grants to local governments to address the impacts of homelessness.
The MOU also outlines provincial and municipal commitments to help prevent future encampments in Victoria. These include:
- the Province working with the city and other partners to develop temporary and permanent housing options to meet community needs; and
- the City of Victoria working with the Capital Regional District to bring forward available land and buildings for housing or shelter, and to expedite land use decisions necessary to rapidly respond to housing need.
The Province said it continues to work with the City of Victoria and community partners on temporary and permanent housing solutions for people who are living outside.