B.C. buys Victoria hotel, as deadline to house homeless in 2 camps looms

The B.C. government has bought a Victoria hotel, as it works to meet a May 20 deadline to house people in two area homeless camps.

The province says the Comfort Inn at 3020 Blanshard Street will be used in the short term to house about 65 people from the camps on Pandora Avenue and in Topaz Park.

The purchase cost the province $18.5 million.

It says the accommodation will come with wraparound supports, including meals, health-care services addictions treatment and harm reduction and storage of personal belongings.

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In the long-term, the site is being eyed for possible redevelopment for affordable housing, based on community consultation.

In the meantime, the facility will be operated by Victoria’s Our Place Society.

The province had initially set a deadline of May 9 to house people at the camps, but extended it last week when it became clear there was not enough housing available.

The press came amid mounting concerns about the safety of the camps, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of May 13, it says 208 people from the two camps have now been moved into temporary accommodations.

The province says 140 people remained at the camps as of Wednesday, but with the new hotel it believes it has found spaces for everyone.

Last weekend, the province moved the final residents of an entrenched homeless camp in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park to hotel or Single Room Occupancy (SRO) accommodations.

A new camp has since sprung up on Port of Vancouver land, adjacent to the city’s CRAB Park.

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