The owner of a West Saanich property wants to evict the 20 people who moved there from Goldstream Provincial Park on Tuesday.
David Shebib, who has been living at 5090 West Saanich Rd., the former site of his Free Store, invited the remaining 20 to 25 homeless campers that were evicted from Goldstream to stay until Oct. 20. Most of the group has been together since the tent city at Regina Park and wanted to stay together. They moved in Tuesday afternoon and set up camp next to the house.
Chrissy Brett, spokesperson with group of campers, said on Tuesday they expected to stay until Oct. 20.
However, Shebib is not the owner, and is not even listed as a tenant, said Sam Seera, who co-owns the property with Gurpal Aujla. Shebib’s son, Andrew McLean, is the listed tenant on a month to month agreement, Seera said.
Seera was unaware of the invitation to the campers and has called the city, the police, and planned to visit the local Residential Tenancy Branch. He says he posted an eviction notice to somebody who was living in the house on Wednesday morning.
“I’m trying to do everything I can to get these people off,” said Seera, who lives elsewhere in Saanich. “Who is going to pay if there is damage and garbage left at the property, if there is soil contamination like there was at Regina Park.”
Shebib, who is running for mayor in Saanich, has been on the property for nearly a decade. In 2011 his Free Store was shut down by Saanich. Shebib told the Saanich News on Tuesday that he was headed to his property in Bella Coola on Tuesday with no intentions of posting any signs for the election campaign (though he says he’ll authorize and reward anyone who posts a creative election sign on his behalf).
“This is a political move and I’m caught in the middle, and I am frustrated,” Seera said. “I thought I’d just call the police and say they’re trespassing but that’s not the case. I have to go through these residency channels and it could be a long time.”
As of Wednesday Seera was unable to contact McLean.
Shebib has a long history for as an activist and a disruptor in the region.
In the fall of 2011 Shebib was arrested while running Saanich mayor for not paying a CRD (improper washing of his truck bed at the Hartland Dump). He then ran for mayor in all 13 Greater Victoria municipalities in 2014. In the past he called out organizers for not inviting him to all-candidates meetings though this year he said he is not likely to be attending any.
His time as an activist for homeless sheltering precedes that. On Feb. 11 of 2009, Shebib and David Arthur Johnston (the long time homeless advocate who is running for mayor of Victoria this year) were arrested for tenting in Centennial Square. It was a protest of the Feb. 5 City of Victoria bylaw approval that prohibited camping in parks between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Known as the Garbage Guru, Shebib’s Free Store at 5090 West Saanich Rd. property was shut down in 2012. What neighbours considered trash was strewn across the yard, as Shebib was using the property to sort the materials he salvaged through his work hauling trash.
“There’s been close to $900 in bylaw tickets that I’ve passed on to [McLean and Shebib],” Seera said. “The neighbours call bylaw and then bylaw always calls me. The tickets get paid. They clean up and then what can you do? The rent is always paid.”