Saanich cops were patrolling the homeless camp in Regina Park Tuesday afternoon less than seven hours before a deadline that requires residents to leave the site. Mayor Richard Atwell said those defying the court order are likely to be arrested. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Update: No arrests at Saanich’s homeless camp as Tuesday night deadline passes

Roughly 75% of campers remain in Regina Park despite court order to vacate

A deadline that asked some 90 homeless people to leave Greater Victoria’s Regina Park came and went Tuesday night without any arrests.

This development marked an anti-climatic end to a day that started with questions and speculations about how various groups, including police and camp residents, would live up to the terms of the court order.

Justice Ward Branch Friday issued an injunction against the camp in a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that gave camp residents until 7 p.m. on Sept. 11 to leave the park, where campers have been tenting since May.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said Tuesday afternoon that police are “likely” to arrest those who refuse to leave the homeless camp alongside the Trans-Canada highway for political reasons as a court-ordered deadline approaches.

“People, who are defiant and want to make a political statement are likely to be arrested,” he said.

Atwell’s comments echoed earlier statements that police would be in a position to arrest individuals after the deadline, as Saanich would not grant camp residents a “grace period.”

He also said police would use all “reasonable means to achieve voluntary decampment before relying on the power of arrest,” and suggested that camp residents facing difficult circumstances would receive a grace period.

Camp leader Chrissy Brett — who earlier said some people were pondering the possibility of passive resistance — believed many were working hard to comply with the court order and accused Atwell and City of Saanich lawyer Jeff Locke of being unfamiliar with the facts on the ground.

RELATED: Regina Park residents ponder passive resistance against Saanich

“Their ideas on paper look better than what is on the ground,” she said in accusing Atwell of “micro-managing” the situation.

Atwell denied the charge. Neither he nor council have instructed police to arrest campers, he said. The power stems from the court-order issued last week, he said.

The starting point of Tuesday’s back-and-forth was Friday’s court ruling, which activists have denounced as “cruel and inhumane” and a “death sentence,” citing statistics that show people experiencing chronic homelessness live a life expectancy of 40 to 49, rather than those who are housed.

READ MORE: Injunction against Saanich’s tent city a ‘death sentence,’ says advocate

Under the ruling, Saanich staff would then start re-mediation of the site, a process set to last a few weeks. They would remove hazardous materials, mow the lawn, and put down eight to 12 inches of wood chips. Once deemed fire safe, Saanich would allow residents to seek overnight shelter, while prohibiting camping during the day.

As Tuesday morning broke, it appeared that few camp residents had left the site. The picture appeared similar around lunchtime. But this perception might have been deceiving. According to camp leader Chrissy Brett, anywhere between 20 and 30 residents had left the camp site by noon, leaving between 70 and 80 people behind at the lunch hour.

Several officers with the Saanich Police Department were walking among the tents at the time, while Brett was in discussion with Sgt. Andy Stuart to discuss steps during the next few hours. Police also fielded questions from residents, who are worried about losing access to the camp as Saanich plans to erect a fence around Regina Park starting Wednesday morning.

Related: Saanich will fence in and patrol Regina Park around the clock

Current plans call for a community meeting at 7 p.m. when the deadline expires, and Brett expressed hope that Saanich police would not act like police in Seattle, where authorities recently disbanded a homeless camp.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Right now, my concentration is ensuring to support people, who have been offered housing to take housing, and celebrate those small wins.”

Updates to follow.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

 

Camp Namegans at the 7 p.m. deadline on Sept. 11, 2018. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Black Press)

Just Posted

Search and rescue piggybacks plucky injured senior out of Comox Valley woods

Rescue crews don’t have same success with dog swept away by river

Canadian Cancer Society stops accepting hair donations

A switch to synthetic wigs will lighten costs for cancer patients

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

3 random words mark every spot on earth in innovative mapping system

World map assigns three word combinations to 57 trillion 3 metre squares

Who was Chris Bloomfield, the Mill Bay man shot by police?

Facebook posts reveal appetite for illicit drugs, a non-conventional lifestyle and shocked friends

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid more rotating strikes

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers closed two major processing centres in Ontario and B.C.

B.C. city councillor resigns as AutismBC director amid SOGI controversy

AutismBC president Gary Robins says Laurie Guerra’s resignation is effective Nov. 12

McGill students vote overwhelmingly to change Redmen team nickname

Student union held a referendum after a campaign by Indigenous students

B.C. university Pride group replaces white supremacy posters

Around 50 people walked through downtown Victoria to share posters of love

B.C. to invest $492 million in affordable homes

72 new projects are part of a 10-year, $1.9-billion strategy

Around the BCHL: Surrey Eagles sliding and Cassidy Bowes flows

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

Pit bull cross, chihuahua owners must split costs for dogfight damage, judge rules

Eac side responsible for $577.43 towards injuries in Comox Valley incident

Vancouver Island brewery re-brands again after cryptic new logo failed

Victoria-based brewers said goodbye to confusing hexagon logo

Most Read