Re: “Saanich campers ordered to leave,” Sept. 8.
I am extremely disappointed that our court granted a temporary injunction to force the closing of Saanich tent city. Displacing people without providing any alternatives (no, giving people access to storage lockers for 30 days and allowing them to camp at night only in other parks are not alternatives to housing) is cruel and inhumane.
Tent cities provide an alternative for people who are unable to find housing in an environment where rents are skyrocketing and vacancy rates are extremely low.
Tent cities also provide a sense of community. Homelessness often leads to isolation, which can have a devastating effect on people’s physical and mental health. Tent cities make community care, mutual aid and a sense of belonging possible for people who are otherwise vulnerable.
Ultimately, tent cities reduce many of the risks associated with homelessness by providing undisrupted shelter, access to basic supplies and emotional support. They also play an important role in harm reduction while we are in the midst of a national overdose crisis. The surrounding community might see tent cities as inconvenient, but they are actually life-saving.
Shutting down tent cities only displaces the residents farther from the agencies they need and from each other, leaving them vulnerable to the many risks associated with homelessness. By failing to take this into consideration, the judge proved that the legal system is ultimately incapable of protecting, and addressing the needs and rights of, homeless people.