VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Eight arrests have been made at the Pandora Avenue homeless encampment, according to the Victoria Police Department.
The plan to relocate people from encampments in Victoria and Vancouver to housing was announced April 25, with a deadline of May 9.
The encampment at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver was cleared that day, but the deadline for the Topaz and Pandora encampments in Victoria was extended.
That extension expired May 20.
The Victoria Police Department says the eight campers were taken to police headquarters on Sunday and will be provided with information on how to access resources. It says belongings will be held for safekeeping.
“The Topaz Park area had been fully evacuated without any need for enforcement. It was only in the Pandora corridor where enforcement was needed,” says Bowen Osoko, with the police department.
“Some folks had left to take advantage of motel/hotel rooms as well as modular accommodations. But some people did remain and other people moved in,” he adds.
Arrests have been made as efforts to complete decampment in the 1000 and 900-blocks of Pandora Avenue continue. A reminder to people on site, do not cross the police tape. #yyj
— Victoria Police (@vicpdcanada) May 24, 2020
Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson provides an update on the status of the decampment efforts in Victoria
— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) May 20, 2020
Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson said Wednesday that hundreds had successfully moved out of Victoria’s encampments and into stable, supportive housing.
However, about 30 people remained.
“It is our expectation and hope that we will have moved all of the people by end of day and they will be able to move forward on completion of the closure of those sites,” he said Wednesday.
“There is a possibility that it could flow into tomorrow but there is every expectation that we will complete the moves today.”
Simpson made a distinction between people who were living at those sites when the closures were announced, and others who have since moved in.
“We have been meeting with those folks with outreach workers who are providing supports to them by registering them for housing,” he said.
“There are a small number of people who simply have said they do not want to come inside. That’s their choice, we’re not forcing anyone into housing. We are telling them that they do need to leave the site and our expectation is that that will occur.”
According to BC Housing, 341 people had moved from the Pandora and Topaz encampments by 5 p.m. on May 20.