Eviction notice for warming centre in Mouat Park to be enforced Friday morning

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A grassroots warming space set up at Mouat Park is facing an eviction order as organizers of the space continue to advocate to remain there. 

The warming space is set up at Mouat Park with tents, seating and a barbecue in what organizers say is an effort to offer people who are unhoused or insecurely housed a place to gather, connect with each other and keep warm. The space has received two eviction notices from the Capital Regional District over the past week, with the latest notice stating that organizers need to remove all shelters and related equipment by 8 a.m. Jan. 28 or face the removal of the space by the CRD. 

According to the CRD’s Bylaw 3795, camping in a community park is prohibited except for the case where someone who doesn’t have a home putting up a temporary shelter overnight.

“The Capital Regional District does not consent to, permit or authorize your encampment within Mouat Park,” a copy of the bylaw contravention and removal notice stated. 

Member of the warming space collective Kajin Goh stated that CRD and the Salt Spring Island Parks and Recreation division confirmed a notice of removal will be enforced on Friday morning if the collective does not comply by removing the structure. 

The CRD has offered an alternative to the warming space organizers, which involves setting up an encampment in an adjacent field from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Structures would have to be removed each morning, and there would be no open flames such as a barbecue unless the group applies for a park use permit.  

The collective stated that the CRD-proposed solution is “untenable and unworkable, inefficient, expensive beyond our present means, and a source of even greater disruption to the nearby residents and the neighbourhood.”

They are instead inviting people to join a “peaceful Be-in and show of support” at the warming space starting at 8 a.m. Friday. 

“Please bring food, an instrument, letters, your voice . . . We need witnesses, friends and advocates,” the collective stated. “We will be present for as long as it is deemed necessary til there is written assurance and the political, official commitment which will allow us to keep our friends safe, warm and supported.”

The Driftwood has asked for comment from CRD staff members but had not heard back as of publication time. 

Salt Spring CRD director Gary Holman said he has requested staff to work with agencies, including Salt Spring Island Community Services, to help manage a temporary warming space. 

He noted that there have been numerous complaints about the warming space from neighbours and park users, and bylaw has not acted for several weeks including during the coldest days of the year. The warming space was initially set up in Peace Park in Ganges for one week over the holidays, then moved to Mouat Park starting on Jan. 6. 

For more details on this story, see the Feb. 2 edition of the Gulf Islands Driftwood. 

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