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Canada City of Victoria allows camping in parks so homeless can physically distance

15:42  01 april  2020
15:42  01 april  2020 Source:   cbc.ca

It’s time to think of homelessness as a public health emergency

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Victoria Police watch over residents at the homeless camp at the Victoria law courts. Homeless people camping in parks is growing in Saanich as well, says a University of Victoria professor. (Chad Hipolito/THE CANADIAN PRESS).

But when the city needed space for a temporary homeless shelter, officials chose an outdoor parking lot. A temporary shelter at a parking lot in Las Vegas, with spaces marked for social distancing to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.Credit Steve Marcus/Reuters.

a group of people walking down a street: Victoria mayor Lisa Helps says in a prosperous country like Canada, people should not be still living outside. © Maggie MacPherson/CBC Victoria mayor Lisa Helps says in a prosperous country like Canada, people should not be still living outside.

The City of Victoria, B.C. won't be enforcing rules on camping in parks, as part of an effort to let people experiencing homelessness follow instructions to physicially distance themselves from others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the increase of homeless people camping along Pandora Avenue in downtown Victoria, the city is now allowing the homeless to sleep in tents in city parks.as a temporary measure.

Victoria mayor Lisa Helps told On the Island host Gregor Craigie the city has chosen Topaz park and Royal Athletic park as designated sites where harm reduction services, food services and security will be set up. Both were also chosen because they have running water so people can wash their hands.

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  East Hastings Street should be closed to help social distancing among homeless, advocate says While most British Columbians are hunkered down at home to stop the transmission of the novel coronavirus, for those people living on the streets of Vancouver there are few safe places to shelter or maintain a safe distance from others. Advocates say not enough is being done for the city's homeless population to protect them from COVID-19. Fiona York, co-ordinator with the Carnegie Community Action Project, is now calling on the city to close aAdvocates say not enough is being done for the city's homeless population to protect them from COVID-19.

City officials said they decided to temporarily place the homeless in a parking lot of a multi-use facility rather than inside buildings that include a stadium, a We’ll continue to provide this temporary respite, while practicing necessary social distancing , for anyone who is suffering from homelessness

" Victoria is Mecca," says Palubeski as he folds his sleeping bag and blue tarp. "If you are going to be homeless , this is it. Victoria is known for its mild climate, tame winters, lush greenery and laid-back lifestyle, but city officials and police say camping in the parks is a last resort for the homeless only

"The prime minister gets on his podium everyday and says 'stay at home.' Sadly for some Canadians, home is a tent so that makes this really, really complicated," said Helps.

Helps said bylaws that outline what time a camper can set up and take down their tent will not be enforced by officers at any parks at this time. 

Moving inside

Helps said the long-term plan is to get homeless people inside but with limited city-owned facilities that can be used, B.C. Housing has had to help find places like vacant motels for homeless people to stay. 

In her daily address on the City of Victoria Facebook page on March 31, Helps said B.C. Housing has acquired additional motel rooms for people to stay, bringing the total to number of secured spaces to 115.

COVID-19: Some B.C. parks to be closed due to increase in visitors

  COVID-19: Some B.C. parks to be closed due to increase in visitors A number of B.C. parks are set to be closed as visitors have disregarded health officials’ COVID-19 recommendations to practise social-distancing while flocking to the outdoors in increasing numbers. Parks staff have been monitoring campgrounds, parks and trails across B.C. to ensure visitors are maintaining at least two metres between themselves and other families or groups to prevent community transmission of the virus. “The mental andParks staff have been monitoring campgrounds, parks and trails across B.C. to ensure visitors are maintaining at least two metres between themselves and other families or groups to prevent community transmission of the virus.

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New homeless camp in Victoria is growing. A homeless encampment near the Jersey shore that came to be known as Tent City was declared closed Residents of a homeless camp in Chilliwack, B., have been handed a notice of trespass — despite their claims they have nowhere else to go.

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As for residents who are frustrated with the situation along Pandora Avenue, Helps said she wishes there was a simple fix for the problem but there just isn't one.

"Of course, when people don't have homes or when they don't have access to the supports they need, it doesn't look pretty for anyone," she said. 

B.C. Housing said in a statement it's in the process of finalizing agreements with facility providers. It said local health authorities will identify people who require self-isolation and the organization will work with them to make these spaces available to those people. 

There are now over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

Cities grapple over whether to give more room to pedestrians to spread out .
OTTAWA — Battles are brewing in some cities over use of increasingly limited public space, as local governments struggle with whether to give more room for pedestrians to spread out. Canada's national public-health authority considers taking a walk outside a low risk activity for healthy people, as long as they keep a two-metre distance from one another. But that's not always possible, especially on urban sidewalks that aren't wide enough to letCanada's national public-health authority considers taking a walk outside a low risk activity for healthy people, as long as they keep a two-metre distance from one another.

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