Regina Park encampment updates

Overview

The District of Saanich and Saanich Police are working toward resolving the Regina Park encampment as soon as possible. Our first priority is to ensure the safety of residents, people attending local businesses in the area, and the people at the camp. 

If you see something suspicious, or to report a crime that has occurred, no matter how minor you think it may be, we strongly encourage you to call the Saanich Police non-emergency line at 250-475-4321. To report an emergency, or to report a crime in progress, please call 9-1-1. 

While we would all like to have this matter resolved immediately, we have to work within the framework of the law, which takes time and is beyond our control. The Regina Park encampment is an evolving legal matter, and as such there are limits on the information that we can share publicly. Within those limits, Saanich will work to keep the public, including area residents and businesses, informed of developments. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding while we work to find a long-term solution. 

August 16, 2018 update

Saanich will defer to the court to decide on the consequences if the encampment occupants fail to comply with the court order issued August 13. Saanich Fire Department will continue to conduct regular site inspections every other day and provide direction to the occupants in regards to compliance.

More information is available in the updated FAQ document [PDF - 235 KB].

August 13 update

The District of Saanich and the Province of BC’s court hearings commenced at 10 a.m. Monday, August 13. Encampment representatives appeared at the hearing to request an adjournment for more time to prepare their materials. The adjournment was granted by the court and the hearing will resume the week of August 27. 

A fire order was also issued giving the encampment occupants 72 hours to comply with the Fire Order from the Office of the Fire Commissioner [PDF - 426 KB], which was served to the District of Saanich on June 29, 2018. 

July 24 update 

On Monday, July 23 2018 the District of Saanich commenced legal proceedings in British Columbia Supreme Court, by which an injunction will be sought to require Regina Park be immediately vacated to allow for fire risks and other hazards in the park to be addressed and, thereafter, to require that uses of the park be limited to uses permitted by Saanich’s bylaws.

Find out more in the information bulletin. More information is also available in the updated FAQs [PDF - 235 KB].

July 12 update

On behalf of the District of Saanich, Saanich Police issued a Notice to Cease Occupation to the occupants of the Regina Park encampment this morning with the expectation of immediate compliance.

July 11 update 
Please read the Regina Park encampment frequently asked questions document [PDF - 235 KB] for more information.
This map [PDF - 1 MB] outlines where people may or may not seek overnight shelter in accordance with the updated bylaw.
July 10 update

As of Tuesday, July 10, a small temporary trailer housing four washrooms and showers has been installed at the Saanich Municipal Hall to serve as a hygiene station for people experiencing homelessness in our community. In addition, one steel storage container is located in the same area to allow people experiencing homelessness to store their basic belongings during the day.

The temporary hygiene station and property storage are part of Saanich's strategy to achieve compliance with our Parks Management and Control Bylaw [PDF - 35 KB]. The facilities have been placed here as a temporary measure while Council works with the CRD and BC Housing to develop longer-term supportive housing solutions.

Bylaw amendments in relation to people experiencing homelessness seeking temporary overnight shelter in parks were adopted by Council on July 9. The amendments have brought Saanich's bylaw in line with the court decisions around overnight sheltering in parks. The hygiene station and property storage will provide services to people experiencing homelessness and will support overnight sheltering in accordance with the bylaw. 

July 6, 2018 update

On July 6, 2018 at around noon, a 43 year old woman was arrested at the encampment. The woman, who has been self-referred to as the encampment founder, was interfering and obstructing the Saanich Fire Department in the performance of their duties. The woman would not allow the Saanich Fire Department onto the property and was physically blocking them from addressing life/fire safety hazards at the site. The woman has been arrested for obstruction and will appear before the courts at a later date. Read the full news release on Saanich Police's website.

After the arrest, staff from the Saanich Parks and Fire Departments were able to continue assisting those encamped at the park to remedy the life/fire safety hazards at the site. Efforts to achieve compliance with the fire orders will continue in the coming days.

June 29 update

Fire Order from the Office of the Fire Commissioner [PDF - 426 KB] was served to the District of Saanich on June 29, 2018. The District is working towards compliance.

June 19, 2018 update

We have issued an information bulletin to the public and media that outlines details of the recent Fire Inspection Order.

June 18, 2018 update

On Friday, June 15, the Saanich Fire Department issued a second Fire Inspection Order pursuant to the Fire Services Act. 

June 14, 2018 update 
Saanich Council is holding a special council meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 21 in Council Chambers to hear public input about the Regina Park encampment. Speakers will be given the opportunity to speak once for three minutes.
June 8, 2018 update 
Today, the Saanich Police Department issued a Notice to Vacate to the occupiers of Regina Park, and the Saanich Fire Department issued an Order pursuant to the Fire Services Act. 
We cannot comment at this time on what further and additional steps may be taken in relation to the encampment at Regina Park, as it remains an evolving legal matter. We continue to encourage residents to report suspicious activity to the Saanich Police non-emergency line at 250-475-4321.
June 6, 2018 update 

As of June 1, 2018, Saanich Police have increased patrols in the area and have assigned officers to specifically focus on Regina Park and the surrounding neighbourhoods. We're hopeful this enhanced focus, and with help from residents by calling in suspicious activities, we'll be able to reduce the amount criminal activity that's occurring in the neighbourhood.

May 29, 2018 update

This camp is part of the roaming protest camp that has been moving throughout municipalities in the Capital Regional District (CRD) since last fall. Saanich Police have had an open dialogue with the organizer since the beginning of her campaign. The camp has been in several parks in Saanich in the past several months. At this time, it is unknown when the campers at Regina Park may leave; the organizer has not given any indication. 

Saanich Parks Department visits Regina Park daily and has installed a portable toilet and two garbage containers. Saanich Parks and Fire Departments, with support from Saanich Police, conduct weekly site visits at Regina Park. Saanich Fire Department met with camp representatives to discuss a variety of fire safety issues and mitigation and to provide fire life safety education. 

Saanich is aware of the challenges and impacts of homelessness and is taking steps to address this within the District. Saanich has been involved in a number of housing initiatives and projects through partnerships with the Capital Regional District as well as the provincial and federal governments. Saanich is also the largest financial contributor to the Regional Housing Trust Fund. The Fund was established by the CRD in 2005, in recognition that housing affordability is a regional priority. The Fund generates approximately $1 million for affordable housing initiatives annually. There are low barrier transitional housing and social housing options in Saanich. 

Saanich Police attempt to connect people living in the camp with outreach services and are working with a number of partner agencies, such as the Housing Action Response Team (HART). HART is an outreach team focusing on encampments. The team offers support, information and advocacy to people experiencing homelessness within our community. HART is able to do “on the spot” housing assessments, social assistance applications and make referrals to other community resources.