Homeless campers give thanks for landlord’s hospitality

There was no Thanksgiving turkey over the weekend for homeless campers on a private property on West Saanich Road, but there were thanks for the facilities and space provided by the landlord.

Landlord Sam Seera, part owner of 5090 West Saanich Rd., has been more generous and humane to the homeless campers than all the mayors and ministers and B.C.’s premier, camp organizer Chrissy Brett said.

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The campers, who were previously at Saanich’s Regina Park and Goldstream Provincial Park, descended on the West Saanich Road property on Oct. 2. They went because of an invitation from Saanich mayoral candidate David Shebib, who lives in a house on the property, which is rented by his son.

The next day, Seera served a one-month eviction notice to the tenants of the home on the property as a way to force out the homeless campers.

Later, however, he came to a compromise with Brett that would see the campers leave at the end of this week.

Seera owns the 1.4-acre rural property with Gurpal and Pavnit Aujla.

Afterward, the landlord arranged for a portable toilet to be delivered to the site, a far more expensive unit — with more features, such as a sink — than camp organizers were seeking.

The campers also have a makeshift kitchen sink, using a garden hose that drains into a pail, and access to electricity. Seera even offered to help with some moving costs for the group, said Brett.

“We didn’t need to celebrate this weekend, just being a family together is something we’re thankful enough for,” said Brett. “The landlord has provided us more than any government, so for that we’re grateful.”

Saanich bylaw officers issued a ticket last week to Shebib because a municipal zoning bylaw prohibits living in a tent or RV on the property. A notice has been posted on his door, warning him he could face fines of up to $115 a day.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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