We have, on the outskirts of our city, yet another tent encampment taking shape. It consists of eighty to ninety campers living in an open field by a main highway going into town from up island. The conditions are primitive, with basic sanitation and water being provided by the municipality. The police and fire officials stop by on a regular basis to make sure that there are no open fires, crime, or health issues. These residents are described as some of the homeless in the greater Victoria area who have recently been evicted from rental suites and are on a waiting list to receive social housing. Many of them will tell you that they would rather be roughing it in a tent than living in any one of seven shelters across the city. For Ms. Brett, the self-proclaimed homeless advocate, her strategy is to establish these camps wherever possible in the belief that they serve to draw attention to the plight of the need for more social housing. It is her hope that politicians will take her claims seriously enough to enter into negotiations with her as this dispossessed community’s exclusive spokesperson. While she appears to be both passionate in her beliefs and compassionate in her concern for the homeless, it is rather unclear who she really speaks for other than a small group of homeless types who want to embarrass various levels of government into building more housing. Until her nebulous claim is met, these outcasts will continue to call Regina Park their home. While they dig in for the long haul, the city has made application to the Supreme Court to have them removed from this property as trespassers, not before designating certain sites for social housing over the next couple of years. There is even talk of the province bringing in modular units to house these people in the interim. City fathers have had an earful of complaints that this latest tent city has to go because it is starting to tax public patience, goodwill and ability to fund, along with the fact that this protest is in obvious violation of city park ordinances. Some time this month, the courts will rule on the final injunction and the campers will be forced to leave within twenty-four hours or be forcibly escorted. Some will leave peaceably while others will be arrested for refusing to obey the order. Some will scurry away to look for another space to set up a camp from which to launch a new protest, which leads me to think that the only plan here is to carry on the political fight indefinitely, compassion notwithstanding. A friend on council tells me that there are enough designated rooms around the city to accommodate specific homeless people in decent living arrangements while the units are being constructed; it just so happens that this crowd chooses not to believe such overtures. Human misery, for them, has become a powerful weapon by which to potentially exact much more from the establishment than just a roof over their head. Ideally, in this time of rising real estate and rental rates, taxpayers should pay the lion’s share for their so-called guaranteed right to enjoy clean and safe accommodation. Who could argue such logic except there is no concrete plan to make it happen real soon. Compassion that answers to the political order is left stuck in low gear because the political wheels of change these days move very slowly when it comes to new spending of public money on social initiatives. Some might rightly argue that the creation of new affordable housing never satisfies the demand because there will always be a poor class out there who demand something more than just a hand up.