Daytime Sheltering Ending in City Parks as of May 1

Daytime sheltering in parks will end on May 1, 2021 as a result of bylaw changes adopted Thursday night by Victoria City Council. The decision comes amid an unprecedented effort to move people inside through an ongoing partnership between the Province, BC Housing, the City and service providers. 

“It has been a challenging year since the pandemic amplified the realities of homelessness, and having people sheltering in parks has not been ideal for anyone,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “With a commitment from the Province that everyone is being offered indoor options as a pathway to permanent housing by the end of April, people will have the supports they need and the city parks can be restored to their pre-pandemic use.”

Council has amended the Parks Regulation Bylaw to remove a provision that allowed daytime sheltering since last year in response to a humanitarian crisis brought on by the pandemic and public health advice that encouraged municipal governments to allow people who are unhoused to shelter in place. The change means the previous bylaw requirement will come back into effect and shelters will not be allowed in parks between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., effective May 1.

In addition, Council has given staff direction to bring forward further Park Regulation Bylaw amendments to add Cecelia Ravine Park, Centennial Square and Central Park to the list of parks where sheltering is prohibited, and to extend temporary regulations regarding location, size, and distancing of shelters until the end of the Provincial State of Emergency.

The City will communicate the new rules with respect to parks sheltering over the next six weeks to people experiencing homelessness, service providers and other community partners, and bylaw officers will continue to share information with people in parks about available housing and social service support.

The process of helping people move inside is actively underway. So far, since the beginning of March, 116 people have moved inside from parks and other outdoor areas.

For more information about temporary sheltering in parks, visit victoria.ca/sheltering.