Rally calls for end to Victoria’s temporary sheltering bylaw

Bylaw restricts overnight camping in parks until 7 a.m.

Dozens attended a rally in Centennial Square Thursday night to demand Victoria council nix a bylaw that limits overnight sheltering.

Organized by the Homeless Ideas Podcast and the LEOHN Network – grassroots groups run by members of Victoria’s homeless community – the rally called for an end to the bylaw, which forces unhoused residents to pack up their belongings every morning and set up again each night.

READ ALSO: Homeless will not be asked to take down tents during COVID-19 pandemic: Victoria Mayor

Victoria’s Parks Regulation Bylaw says people who are homeless can seek temporary overnight shelter in City parks but it must be temporary and erected only from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. between March to October and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. from November to February.

Items left behind outside of those hours can be impounded.

READ ALSO: Petition demands Victoria ‘save Beacon Hill Park’

That bylaw hasn’t been enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic but unhoused community members want to see it permanently dismantled. A poster for the event calls the bylaw a waste of resources and a “justification for the displacement and harassment of unhoused residents.”

Hundreds of people who are homeless in Victoria were moved into temporary shelters during the pandemic, though many remain in parks.

The event started with a food service at 5 p.m. (priority to unhoused people) before the rally started at 5:30 p.m.

READ ALSO: Homeless worry about their future as deadline to move into hotel looms


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