Press Release: Tent City Residents Oppose the Management of their Homes and Lives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (April 19, 2016)

VICTORIA, LEKWUNGEN TERRITORY: On Thursday, April 14th, the Provincial government announced plans to contract Portland Hotel Society (PHS) to manage Super InTent City (SIC), the tent city on the Victoria Courthouse lawn. After meeting with PHS representatives, SIC has decided to insist on their own self-management of their camp and lives. SIC opposes management by PHS or any third party, and demands that the Province divert resources from PHS to the tent city residents themselves.

On April 5th, the BC Supreme Court Judge Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson refused to grant an interim injunction to remove the camp’s residents. Chief Justice Hinkson read evidence from residents and supporters of SIC highlighting the significant health and safety benefits of SIC for its residents including physical and mental health improvements, improved access to services, improved physical safety due to the strong community at SIC, and leadership development within the camp. The judge praised the “responsible leadership and organization” at the camp, and the camp’s efforts to establish effective lines of communication with health and safety authorities.

“The Judge’s decision means that the government can’t send the police in and displace us,” says camp resident Roddy G., “So the government went behind our backs and hired a third party manager despite the fact that we have been more than willing to negotiate with them directly about addressing safety and health conditions that we very much want to improve.”

According to Ana McBee: “The contracting of a third party manager undermines our ability to develop leadership within the camp to run our own homes and lives.” Anna continued, “We have created ‘SIC Society,’ a non-profit to represent the interests of unhoused people, and to manage our own shelters and housing. We’ve asked for direct communication and resources from the government to help manage SIC and we need to be in control of those resources.”

The government is responsible for the housing crisis that has put people out on the street. Residents demand that any resources the government is offering be managed directly by the camp instead of a third party manager. Leading up to the September trial, residents of SIC are asking that the government provide permanent camping areas close to the downtown core, and immediately begin making accessible affordable, independent, housing units for people on fixed incomes.

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