Homeless man wants to know where he belongs

Op-eds Opinions

As recounted to downtown Victoria worker Ashley Mollison, member of the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG)

Yesterday, I went to the police station to figure out where I belong. A few days ago, all my gear for living and sleeping was confiscated from the park on Chambers Street in Fernwood. The police told me that I couldn’t stay there anymore.  I had to leave my belongings there while I went canning, what I do to make a living. My shopping cart was confiscated by City workers under the direction of the police. Since my cart had my bike lock in it, which I use to lock my bike trailer downtown, losing my cart meant losing my bike trailer. I asked the City workers where my stuff had gone, and they told me they took it to the City Yard. By the time I got down there, my bike trailer was there too. They told me it had been “abandoned” downtown, because I didn’t have the lock to let me take it with me. The lock had been confiscated along with my cart.

So I wound up at the police station to tell them that I’m not allowed at the park on Chambers Street and I’m not allowed to store my stuff in any park. I don’t belong in Market Square, Bastion Square or Centennial Square. I’ve been chased out of all of them. I don’t have ID; it was destroyed by a police officer (because they believed it was fake).

To make a living, I need to drop my gear. I could leave it at Rock Bay Landing shelter, but if I don’t get back by 11 p.m., all my stuff will be thrown in the garbage. I could leave it at Our Place Society shelter between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., but the lockers don’t fit all my gear for camping. I’ve run out of options of where to go.

I don’t want to scare anybody, but I want to exist. If I can’t sleep in the shadows in the alley, then I need to sleep out in the open where I am vulnerable to theft and violence. Can I have insurance? Because I’m afraid I’m going to be hurt. This is basic human rights, and I am not afforded them because I’m homeless.