Campers near Saanich municipal hall await response from transportation ministry

  • Oct. 15, 2018 12:00 a.m.

The group of homeless campers tenting along the Pat Bay Highway next to Saanich municipal hall remain unsure if they’ll be forced out on Tuesday.

It is believed the group of about 30 tenters, who set up on Saturday on the land Saanich had recently set aside for modular housing, will soon be forced to move as they are on Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure right-of-way. The group, known as Namegans Nation, started at Regina Park in May. They then moved to Goldstream Provincial Park, Carey Road (MOTI), and 5090 West Saanich Rd.

On Monday afternoon the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure confirmed it asked campers to vacate the site within 48 hours under the Transportation and Trespass Act, said ministry spokesperson Lindsay Byers.

“Outreach staff are also visiting the campers to remind them of the opportunity for shelter and support services,” they added.

READ MORE: Province says Saanich-owned land unsuitable for supportive housing

(Inset photo: A set of flood lights, run by a generator, shone on the tent city throughout Sunday night and into Monday morning. Photo submitted)

Saanich’s mobile command unit has been set up in the Saanich Fire Department parking lot, next to the tent city. It’s reminiscent of the command centre’s use by Saanich Police when the 100-person tent city at Regina Park was evicted on Sept. 6 and then in the following week from Carey Road. However, Saanich deputy fire chief Dan Wood said this time it’s only Saanich Police IT officers that are using the unit as it is set up today by coincidence and is undergoing regularly planned software upgrades ahead of Wednesday’s emergency operation drill at Pearkes Arena.

READ ALSO: Tent city moves to Saanich municipal hall

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A set of flood lights, run by a generator, was set up Sunday night and continued to shine at 10 a.m. on Monday. Camp spokesperson Chrissy Brett feels both the command centre and the lights are intimidation tactics, though Saanich Fire said the command centre will be shut down after its software is upgraded today.

“This is just boys with their toys,” Brett said.

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