A neighbour’s perspective on Tiny Town, 940 Caledonia

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I received an email (reproduced below) from a resident expressing a perspective that doesn’t tend to attract a lot of media attention.

We have known for decades that the media focuses on stories of conflict, anger, and the like in order to sell advertising, and does a poor job of reflecting the broader reality. Social media amps this up using algorithms.

The angry voices promoted by media and social media don’t reflect the views of the majority of residents – a fact that has been underscored for me in my conversations with thousands of residents of Victoria since starting to campaign for the 2022 municipal election, and since.

That resident’s email was a nice reminder of this.

940 Caledonia is the site of the former Tiny Town. The provincial government recently announced that it is re-opening the tiny home village, now called Caledonia Place. From the announcement:

“BC Housing and Our Place Society will offer the Caledonia Place spaces primarily to people staying in local shelters who are ready to transition into permanent supportive housing.

Onsite support services will include:

    • Minimum 3 staff onsite 24/7
    • Health care referrals and wellness checks
    • Life skills training, employment assistance
    • Connection and referral to community services and support groups

Caledonia Place will also be fenced with a secure front gate. There will be security cameras both inside and outside the site, and staff will conduct regular perimeter checks.”

Here is the email, which is from a neighbour who lives about as close as possible to 940 Caledonia.

“As a resident of Victoria, and neighbour to 940 Caledonia, I was pleased to hear that there is an extension on the lease allowing the continuation of the housing complex affectionately known as the Tiny Home Village.

I have been a homeowner at [address removed] for 20 years and have seen a lot of changes around Victoria over those years. I am saddened (like everyone else) to see the increase in numbers of unhoused persons, and the increased number of people harmed by the mental and physical health problems exacerbated by the toxicity of street drugs and lack of mental health supports. There are many pressures of living in Victoria in this day and age. With Victoria’s rapid growth, it has become more expensive and difficult to find housing. We live in more troubling times with existential threats facing us every day. There are no quick solutions, but the housing of 30 street involved persons is one small positive step the city has undertaken to alleviate some of these pressures. I am grateful for that. 

I have had only positive feelings about my neighbours at 940. It makes me happy to know that there are 30 formerly homeless single people living in community with safety and supports. I would be hard pressed to differentiate between people living at that address from people from other addresses in North Park. Maybe they do not have such expensive stuff. They blend in otherwise. I like knowing that there is a Security Guard on the corner as an extra set of eyes on the street. I like seeing the meal deliveries going to the residents. The only time I found it a detriment was when one person was camping out at the corner with some kind of protest going on involving loudspeakers. I don’t think he was a resident there and I was surprised that he got to stay there as long as he did. At times there would be people briefly hanging out in the parking lot coming to visit for whatever reason. At other times there would be one or two people sitting on the public chairs on Vancouver and they seemed friendly enough although sometimes asleep. I don’t know if they were residents or just passing through. This is no different from other places around Victoria and parts of our community. I feel that the increased presence and visibility results in increased safety for all. I feel that we are a diverse neighbourhood. 

So overall, I am in favour of the Tiny Home Village continuing with the support of Our Place. If problems develop, they need to be addressed as they arise, but in principle it is a concept that has worked.

Thank you for listening,

[Name and address removed]