Four parks slated for overnight sheltering ban

The city is moving ahead with plans to add four parks to the list of green spaces where overnight sheltering is banned.

Neighbours living near Kings Park in Fernwood are breathing a sigh of relief now that the city is moving ahead with plans to add four parks to the list of green spaces where overnight sheltering is banned.

Last Thursday, councillors voted to amend the parks bylaw for Haegart Park, Kings Park, Cridge Park and Arbutus Park, and developed a list of general principles to restrict the number of areas where camping is allowed throughout the city.

During the summer months, between 12 to 14 tents are regularly set up in Kings Park, located on Caledonia Avenue between Cook and Chambers streets. Neighbours said the evenings are often filled with drug deals, screaming and threats of bodily harm. Some campers defecate on private property, rummage through garbage bins and blue boxes, and steal electricity.

David Hillman lives less than a block away from the park and is looking forward to a summer of peace and quiet.

“I’ve been around here a long time and the rowdiness is just getting bigger and bigger with each passing year,” he said. “It’ll restore the neighbourhood. We won’t have to worry about all that stuff going on — the drugs, the drinking and the thefts.”

This isn’t the first time the city has discussed banning overnight sheltering in the four parks that councillors agreed are more like green spaces given their size and lack of facilities.

Coun. Ben Isitt initially proposed the ban last April, citing the parks are too small and too close to homes. But the discussion was put on hold until council received more information about sheltering solutions.

In 2009, the Court of Appeal ruled homeless people have a constitutional right to set up temporary shelters in a park if there are no available shelter beds. In response to the decision, the city amended the parks regulation bylaw, allowing sheltering in parks between 7 p.m. (8 p.m. when daylight savings is in effect) and 7 a.m. the next day.

In 2014, however, the city and police noticed a significant increase in overnight sheltering at parks and green spaces, resulting in damage to vegetation and ecosystems, impacts on neighbouring residents, and significant costs for clean up and restoration. Camping was most prevalent in Beacon Hill Park, Cridge Park, Topaz Park, Kings Park, Holland Point Park, Arbutus Park and Haegert Park.

Today, many of the campers have left the parks to live on the lawns of the courthouse (owned by the province), where city bylaws don’t apply. The province, however, has told the campers they must leave by Thursday and has come up with 88 spaces for them to move into until more permanent solutions are found. Some campers, however, said they aren’t going anywhere.

Before the city places any bans on the four parks in question, council asked staff to further consult with area residents and those who are currently unhoused or sleeping outside.

For Isitt, the decision to add more parks to the list is a challenging one.

“Those four parks are not appropriate for overnight sheltering and there’s places within the park system that are more acceptable,” said Isitt. “The people living nearby have dealt with the impacts of the camping as opposed to the rest of the community.”

Moss Rock Park, Summit Park and Cecelia Cove Park have already been deemed as environmentally sensitive areas. Parts of Topaz Park, Robert Porter Park and Beacon Hill Park are also protected.

The James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) has also come forward with a list of 14 park areas where it wants overnight camping banned.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich police officers were one group of dozens that submitted dance clips to the Greater Victoria Festival Society, to help create the Dance Across Victoria video montage. (Youtube/Screenshot)
WATCH: Saanich police, Victoria mayor bust some moves in new Dance Across Victoria video

Montage features submitted dance clips from across Greater Victoria

Former Oak Bay High Grade 12 student Brandon Kip plays the $100,000 Steinway piano in the Dave Dunnet Theatre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay High Alumni Association passes torch to new president

The association has given back more than $70,000 in its 16 years

Saanich’s Malia Brodie competed in the Vancouver qualifiers for the 2020 National Championships. (Photo by BC Sport Karate Snaps)
PHOTOS: Saanich teen awarded $1,800 Karate Canada bursary to pursue officiant certification

Malia Brodie, 18, has black belt, nearly 15 years experience in karate

This photo courtesy of Leanne Grover shows the immediate aftermath of the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents. (Leanne Grover/Submitted)
Residents of a Central Saanich duplex ‘fortunate’ to escape Sunday morning fire

Damage to the duplex extensive with one resident said to be ‘catatonic’ after escaping building

After more than a year, open forums will resume at a Saanich committee of the whole meeting on April 19 with up to five residents having the chance to speak for three minutes each about any district-related matter. (Black Press Media file photo)
Public input resumes at Saanich council following lengthy suspension due to pandemic

Up to five residents can present by phone for up to three minutes starting April 19

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read