Following a court decision to allow campers to stay at the Victoria courthouse site through the summer, the provincial government is working with the City of Victoria, along with fire and police officials, to develop a plan for safety standards to better protect people at the site and nearby residents.
An inspector from the Office of the Fire Commissioner visited the site on Feb. 27, 2016. This visit resulted in an order being issued for campers to deal with the fire hazards that were identified. The Province and the city are concerned that the site is still not safe enough in order to comply with existing standards.
Moving forward, provincial government and local officials will discuss a number of safety measures to address the fire commissioner’s concerns, including ensuring there is a safe amount of space between the tents; elimination of open burning and the use of flames and candles at the site; and ensuring all areas of the site enable people to exit in the case of an emergency and are accessible to police and fire officials.
The Province is working with the Portland Hotel Society to help in the management and safety of the site and to work with campers to connect them with housing, health and other services. The Portland Hotel Society will provide these services on site and soon will be there on a 24/7 basis.
Plans announced today follow a meeting earlier this week among Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman, Attorney General Suzanne Anton and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. The Portland Hotel Society and local officials now are engaging with people at the site to help them better understand the safety concerns and how best to address those concerns as quickly as possible.
Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing –
“Our focus at this point is to improve safety at the courthouse lawn site. We are in discussions with the city, and police and fire officials about how we can make this area safe – for those at the site and for those who live nearby.”
City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps –
“I’m pleased that, in response to the City of Victoria and our public, the Province has engaged a service provider to manage the tenting area, including addressing the health-and-safety concerns. We thank the Province for their leadership and look forward to playing a supporting role.”