Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has issued the following statement regarding tent encampments in Victoria at Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue:
“Since April 25, 2020, 308 people experiencing homelessness in Victoria’s Topaz Park and Pandora corridor have been moved into safe temporary housing. The housing provided includes wraparound services such as daily meals, support with mental health and addictions challenges, and help with finding more permanent housing solutions.
“All 360 people who were camped at Topaz Park and along Pandora Avenue as of April 25 have been offered indoor accommodation. People continue to actively move into temporary accommodation today, and we will co-ordinate with the City of Victoria as we move people out and close the sites over the coming days.
“I want to thank the dozens of people who have been involved in this partnership, including staff from BC Housing, the City of Victoria, Island Health, the Province, service providers, peer support workers and outreach workers. All have approached this massive effort to house people with compassion and care, providing people with choices that best suit their individual needs.
“These actions were taken to protect the health and safety of people living in the encampments as well as the front-line workers supporting them. Moving people from these encampments to temporary safe and secure housing is a major step in the Province’s effort to support our most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“We also continue to work with the additional people who have since moved into the area to provide them with shelter and housing options. Outside of the encampments, there are still many people in Victoria who need housing and support services. Outreach workers continue to register people on the housing registry. A resource guide has also been developed so people have information on safe places to shelter, access hygiene, harm reduction, health care and food services.
“In Victoria, as in communities around the province, our work is not done. Throughout B.C., we have more than 23,000 homes already underway or complete as part of our 10-year housing plan, and there are more to come. As part of that, we are working towards creating longer term and permanent housing solutions with ongoing supports so that after the pandemic, people do not return to homelessness but instead are able to build a better and more comfortable life. This work will continue in the months and years ahead.”