Pubdate: Tue, 21 Sep 2010
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Black Press
Author: Roszan Holmen


It's nearing 10 p.m. on Friday night, and none of the people hanging
out in the 900-block of Pandora Avenue know where all the campers have

Rose Henry suspects some have spread out to other parks, an option
that worries the advocate for the homeless.

Away from the 24-hour security along the boulevard, and their
community of fellow homeless, people are more vulnerable to attack,
Henry said.

The recent disappearance of the so-called "tent city" blossoming on
Pandora Avenue can be partly attributed to an undercover police
operation in late August that resulted in the arrests of nine drug
dealers. Roughly three of the campers have been housed by an outreach
team. The cold wet weather may also have played a part.

A single blue tent stands near Our Place Society. None of the six
people inside want to discuss the controversial city bylaw proposed to
prevent them from camping on the boulevard.

The issue will go to public hearing at City Hall on Thursday (Sept.
23), and the meeting promises to be a long one.

If the bylaw passes (eight of nine members on council were in favour
when the item was last discussed), boulevards will join a list of
other restrictions on camping in public space.

After losing a B.C. Supreme Court battle to outlaw tents in parks, the
City of Victoria has already passed bylaws banning camping in
playgrounds, ecologically sensitive areas, and during the day. The
time restrictions are currently being challenged in court.

"They're cutting off the life support for the poor by saying 'you
can't camp here,' without offering an alternative that would be
meeting the needs of these individuals who have most likely been
red-zoned or barred from shelters," Henry said.

The Downtown Residents Association board wants to see boulevard
camping banned.

"The bylaw is needed as the situation there was becoming intolerable
for all residents (not just the condo dwellers)," said Robert Randall
in an e-mail to the News. "The sex trade, mountains of garbage, drug
peddling, and shopping carts were out of control."

Tony Matthews, who owns Pandora Osteopathic & Sports Clinic at nearby
917 Mason St., also supports the proposed bylaw.

"I've seen them (the drug addicts and mentally ill) dodging the cars.
I've seen one or two bumps ... where the motorist has done their
damnedest to break and stop and then, blow me down, a load of foul
language is voiced at the car driver," Matthews said.

Matthews is also concerned by the mayor's move to make Coun. Philippe
Lucas the new community liaison, replacing Charlayne Thornton-Joe.
Lucas is the only member on council that spoke out against the
proposed boulevard bylaw.

"There was nearly a riot around the room," Matthews said, speaking as
co-chair of the 900 Block Good Neighbour Agreement group.

"Is Mr. Lucas going to democratically represent us? ... If we are
saying, virtually one-hundred per cent that we want the bylaw, how on
earth can he turn around and say 'no.'"
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