The distressingly inadequate level of support from the British Columbia government is chiefly responsible for the mushrooming of a tent city right behind the provincial courthouse in Victoria, locals said.
Victoria residents attested to the proliferation of property crimes that stem from the dreadful living conditions in the community.
“It's just awful what's going on here,” local Stephen Hammond told Chris Brown of CBC News
At least four tenants have already moved out of the building across Hammond’s home due to robberies, threats, and intimidation.
“In a country like Canada, we should not be having people living like this. It's horrendous, the conditions people are living in there,” he said, pointing at the absence of a robust social housing program and support for addiction and mental health as factors exacerbating the situation.
“[Officials] are taking the cheapest way out possible. They have completely obliterated social programs in this province,” Hammond opined.
The rock-bottom vacancy rates and the miniscule $375/month provincial welfare stipend have coalesced into a dangerous cocktail that might very well prove to be a ticking social time bomb, observers warned.
The makeshift tent colony has attracted much attention from various quarters since its formation around seven months ago.
University of Victoria nursing professor Bernie Pauly, who regularly checks out the conditions in the tent city, co-signed a petition in May to convince the provincial government to reconsider in its plans to evict the campers.
“Until we see housing for everyone we will continue to see tent cities, because they are a better alternative than being in a doorway,” Pauly said.
The provincial government went in front of the B.C. Supreme Court for the second time in three months to iron out the issue. In the first hearing, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled in favor of the tent city by saying that no other viable options for the campers currently exist.
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