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Prince George city council to debate removal of downtown encampment

City staff recommend action to ‘stop overnight camping at Millennium Park and... remediation of that site.’

On Monday night, Prince George city council will debate a motion that would direct city staff to begin the process to “stop overnight camping at Millennium Park and commence remediation of that site.”

The city park, located at the corner of First Avenue and George Street, has been the site of an encampment since 2022. According to a report going to city council on Monday, any action to remove the encampment at Millennium Park would require city council to approval final reading of an amendment to the city’s Parks and Open Space Bylaw, designating the Lower Patricia encampment – named Moccasin Flats by residents – as the only public space in the city where overnight camping is allowed.

“The present blanket prohibition against camping in City parks has been unlawful since a 2008 BC Supreme Court decision City of Victoria v. Adams,” city director of public safety Adam Davey wrote in the report. “Presently, the prohibition against camping cannot be reasonably enforced because there is nowhere for those who cannot access shelter space to lawfully shelter overnight which, again, is not constitutional. Once one or more sites become designated as a lawful temporary overnight camping area, the City will be at liberty to consider enforcement steps in areas where camping remains prohibited.”

In October 2021, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the city must allow the Lower Patricia encampment to remain open until suitable housing for all residents was available.


The report before council on Monday, also recommends city council to approve increasing the Prince George RCMP detachment from 147 to 149 members, by adding two officers dedicated to the new Provincial Repeat Violent Offender Intervention Initiative (ReVOII) using funding already approved in the 2023 budget.

“These two Constables would be attached to the existing Downtown Safety Unit, providing additional capacity to that unit while at the same time allowing the City of Prince George to exploit the full potential benefit of the ReVOII initiative and associated components of that program that have now been funded by the Provincial government,” Davey wrote. “During 2023 budget discussions, Council approved a service enhancement to Police Protection to increase the contract strength from 143 to 147 members with an annual estimated cost of $842,432. Administration does not expect to realize the full annual cost in 2023 due to the time it takes to recruit the four new members.”

The ongoing cost, starting in 2024, would be an estimated $420,000 per year.

City administration believes this would be a more effective use of money than hiring private security officers to patrol the area or increasing the hours of operation for the city’s bylaw services division, as discussed in a previous report to city council, Davey added.

On May 15, the city intends to use heavy equipment to clear a roadway through Moccasin Flats to ensure emergency vehicle access, Davey wrote.

“The City has communicated to involved NGOs and occupants of Lower Patricia, providing two weeks’ notice to ensure their belongings are not obstructing the designated (and marked) emergency vehicle accessway,” Davey wrote. “Due to substantial debris, including biohazards and other potentially dangerous materials, Civic Operations need to use machinery to ensure the accessway is cleared and maintainable to the standard necessary to deploy large Fire/Rescue apparatus.”

Once the roadway is cleared, staff are seeking city council’s support to maintain access to the roadway by removing any obstructions which accumulate on the roadway, he added.

City council support is also being sought for a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design pilot project in the residential area neighbouring Moccasin Flats.

“Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a widely adopted crime reduction and prevention concept that prioritizes design features in the built and natural environment,” Davey wrote “The Mayor has initiated discussion with industry-leading experts in this domain, and Administration are currently examining this opportunity further.”