After tenters with Camp Namegans spent their first night at Goldstream Provincial Park, Langford mayor Stew Young said he’s disappointed in the provincial government’s lack of action.
“Really, the inaction of the provincial government is now starting to wear a little thin on the public. If this is their plan, they don’t have much of a plan,” Young said.
He is mainly concerned about the long-term effects the campers may have on Goldstream Provincial Park and its campground.
“We’re a little bit concerned about the damage they do everywhere they go, with the needles and the drugs in the surrounding area,” Young said, adding the RCMP will be closely monitoring the area and keeping him updated. There will be a zero tolerance policy for any drug use or other illegal activity.
“This is going to cause, I believe, damage to the park. It will cause damage to the future. It will be unsafe for anybody because it’s not a confined area in the park, it will be unsafe if there’s drug activity and paraphernalia and needles left behind that we will never be able to find,” Young said. “It will always make that a very dangerous place to go for families. In a confined area, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix these areas up.”
The Langford mayor said he and the RCMP didn’t receive any notification the tent city was moving to Goldstream Provincial Park after being evicted from near Highway 17 on Tuesday.
On Sept. 18, Saanich Police were ordered by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to dismantle campers from Carey Road, where they had been staying since Sept. 15. Although the campers were told they could camp in any of more than 100 of Saanich’s parks overnight, they said they need daytime shelter as well.
Now Camp Namegans plans to stay at the Goldstream Provincial Park campground for two weeks.
Young said the provincial government needs to take responsibility to manage the situation.
“Moving it from place to place is pretty ridiculous,” he said.
As a provincial park, Young added the provincial government will have to take financial responsibility for any damage or clean up.
“We’re waiting to see what the provincial government does, but we’re very disappointed in the provincial government, especially the agencies that they’re funding that are making the decisions that are not coordinated. The government has no plan and that’s really unfortunate because it’s starting to hurt communities now and cause concern to residents and anxiety,” he said.
The provincial government has not responded to request for comment.