Homeless people living in an encampment in Centennial Square, just outside of Victoria’s city hall have been given the order to clear out by Tuesday.
In a statement, the city said council approved an order on Friday to close “select areas of Centennial Square which will require the people sheltering in those spaces to relocate to other places by Sept. 1.”
The city later confirmed that all other spaces in the square are already restricted to sheltering.
The order is being made under Victoria’s parks regulation bylaw that allows the closure of parks and open spaces “when hazardous conditions exist,” according to the statement.
“We recognize every person has the right to shelter and that COVID-19 has exacerbated the challenges faced by vulnerable populations, however Centennial Square has become entrenched with a criminal element that demands greater action to protect the public, businesses and those seeking shelter,” it adds.
The encampment has become a growing issue in the city, and the Downtown Victoria Business Association has linked it to a surge in property crime in the area.
Police have also reported a spike in stabbings and violent crime around the encampment they say is linked to the drug trade.
Earlier this week Victoria police announced charges against 17 people after an undercover operation that found drug dealers operating out of tents in the encampment.
During that operation, one undercover officer was robbed.
The new order does not affect another controversial homeless camp in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park.