Times Colonist

Protesters to move to accommodat­e Centennial Square tree decoration

- BILL CLEVERLEY bcleverley@timescolon­ist.com

Occupy Victoria protesters were promising Monday to comply with a city notice to remove tents from under the giant sequoia at city hall by noon today to make way for Christmas decoration­s.

City bylaw officers accompanie­d by Victoria police handed out notices in Centennial Square Monday telling the protesters that the Occupy Victoria demonstrat­ion, while peaceful, is contrary to city bylaws. They said the tents near the tree must come down and then stay down to make way for Christmas events.

“While the city supports the people’s assembly of Victoria, the occupation of Centennial Square is contrary to City of Victoria’s Parks Regulation Bylaw which prohibits holding demonstrat­ions or other events without a permit and erection of tents and other structures in Centennial Square,” reads the notice, signed by David Speed, acting director of parks, recreation and culture.

“Recognizin­g the peaceful nature of the demonstrat­ion, the City of Victoria has been patient and refrained from enforcemen­t of the bylaw.

“However, continued occupation of the square conflicts with other planned and approved events which are scheduled to take place in Centennial Square,” it reads.

Occupy Victoria media spokesman Jason Thompson said the assembly had agreed to co-operate. He said he didn’t understand why bylaw inspectors visited every tent in the square, handing out notices, rather than just those in the east-lawn area.

“We informed them that we have been in contact with the mayor on this situation for over a week and a half. We’ve all agreed that the sequoia tree will be completely cleared so that the lights can be put up. Everybody here has already been told about that,” he said.

Of the 40-odd tents in the square, only a handful remained on the lawn near the tree Monday afternoon.

“We’re waiting for people to come back to their tents. If those people do not come back to their tents by midnight tonight, we will move them for them,” Thompson said.

However, Thompson said the assembly will move only tents that are vacant.

There may be some people who choose to stay regardless of the notice.

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