Over 20 people gathered outside Victoria City Hall Friday afternoon to protest the City’s removal of a community care tent and two showers from Beacon Hill Park earlier in the day.
Dozens of police and bylaw officer were seen at the park Friday morning dismantling and removing the structures that a local community group had recently installed for the homeless population.
“Here you have the homeless community trying to look after themselves, where the difficulties they’re facing have not been adequately addressed by the powers that be,” said Heather Murphy, who attended the protest.
The community care tent, set up earlier this month, was intended as a place were people living in the park could gather to dry off from rainy weather and access donated supplies. A video posted to Facebook by Shae Perkins, who helped run the community care tent, shows it being dismantled.
Victoria police were on site to monitor the situation while bylaw removed the structures and hauled them away in a truck, said Cam MacIntyre, Victoria Police Department public affairs officer. Police arrested one woman for assaulting an officer and transported her to cells before releasing her, he added. That investigation is ongoing.
Victoria head of engagement Bill Eisenhauer said the unauthorized structures will be stored by the city until the owners claim them.
“We understand the desire of individuals to want to assist people sheltering in the park, however, we cannot allow structures without permits in parks, especially ones that are using gas generators and that pose fire risks, health and safety risks, and are damaging the environment,” he added.
For Murphy, the removal of the structures seems to say that contrary to COVID-19 messaging, we are not in fact “all in this together.”
“It doesn’t make sense,” Murphy said. “If there aren’t adequate supports there, then what are the people to do?”
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