All city and provincially owned land in Victoria is considered 'Private Property/Puclic Access'. What this hybrid term actually means is that all our government owned land is private but the public is granted access to it during certain hours and under certain conditions.
The hours of operation for our land is generally from 7am to 11pm. The conditions vary from buildings, to parks, to beaches but generally require that nobody is performing any life-sustaining activities like sleeping, sitting, or cooking.
Many people are unaware that government owned land, parks and beaches can actually close. Although there are no gates, most of them are officially closed from the hours of 11 pm to 7 am, conveniently the hours that most people would choose to find a place where they could fall asleep.
The City of Victoria did a homeless count last year and found that there were at least 700 people living without a home in Victoria. Those that don't make it into one of the 50-100 shelter beds are criminalized.
The available shelter beds are almost always at capacity and there is a 3 week limit, after which you are pushed back onto the street where you are not even allowed take care of yourself without interference from city by-laws.
Many city by-laws are unconstitutional. However, they are still enforceable until the bylaw is challenged under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This can be a very difficult, lengthly, and costly process and is hardly available to most people who live outside.
The anti-camping bylaws in Victoria are currently being challenged. As of about 2 weeks ago, a legal team has filed papers in the Supreme Court of British Columbia and is commencing a trial that will give a ruling on the constitutionality of moving a peaceful sleeper from government owned land when there is no other place they can go where they will not be breaking the law.