The BC Civil Liberties Association remains gravely concerned about the vulnerability of people with inadequate housing whose wellbeing is threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid health emergency, both of which disproportionately impact Indigenous people.
Jointly with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Pivot Legal Society, we are urging the City of Victoria to, in the minimum, extend the period of non-enforcement of the prohibition on daytime sheltering in parks.
There are approximately 120 people sheltering in Victoria’s parks and in other locations such as doorways and sidewalk. Encampments are also operating as de facto overdose prevention sites. The overdose emergency compounds the harm enacted by displacing homeless people. Last month’s total deaths represent the highest number of illicit drug toxicity deaths ever recorded in a month in B.C. – 170. More people died from fatal overdoses in May than all the COVID-19 deaths combined to date.
We are further calling upon the City of Victoria to take a transformative approach to the city’s relationships with people sheltering in parks and local Indigenous nations.