After the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure handed Namegans Nation two trespass notices, the homeless camp packed up once again and headed for Oak Bay.
The camp, now a group of roughly 30 people, made the move to Cattle Point in Uplands Park, around 7 p.m. Wednesday moving their belongings with two U-Haul trucks.
“Right now Oak Bay is a place that has a zero camping bylaw,” said camp leader Chrissy Brett. “We’re in a gravel spot, which is what we’ve said all along – give us a place where people can actually be.”
It’s the latest move in a months-long battle with various levels of government to secure housing.
Namegans Nation held court in Regina Park from April until mid-September and have moved every few days since, adhering to directives from both the provincial and Saanich municipal governments.
Brett said when the group left their last location near Saanich municipal hall, four Saanich police officers followed them to Cattle Point. The goal now, Brett says, is to buy some time and regroup.
“We’ll have to see how quickly they change their bylaws,” she said, of Oak Bay. “I think with an election coming up, that won’t happen in two days.”
In a statement on the Camp Namegans Facebook page Wednesday, the group said:
“The continuing criminalization and displacement of homeless people is disheartening, but our spirits are up and we will keep fighting to raise awareness about the lack of affordable and adequate housing in Victoria and British Columbia.”
“We’re trying to take less controversial places and places that don’t have a lot of houses around and a lot of playgrounds,” Brett said, adding they’ve made a conscious effort to choose locations that are not ecologically sensitive, a complaint the camp has previously received.
– With files from Keri Coles