View Royal’s mayor is calling for Camp Namegans to put a stop to their year-long protest after West Shore RCMP seized a U-Haul truck believed to be associated with the camp near Thetis Lake.
Around 12:40 a.m. Monday, the truck was discovered by a caretaker living at the Thetis Lake Campground in View Royal. It was inside a gated compound where the lock was cut and its hinges were broken.
Officers determined the truck and its occupants were members of Camp Namegans, a tent city protest group.
“I think it’s break and entering plain and simple,” said David Screech, mayor of View Royal. “I think it’s against the law and I hope the charges are laid.”
Thetis Lake Campground has been permanently closed and is scheduled for re-development.
While Screech said he is unsure about what will be coming to the vacant property, he said it is the owner’s discretion as to who is allowed on it.
“If the owner wanted to, I suppose he could let them [stay] but you could say that about any number of properties,” Screech said.
Campers have been offered overnight mats at several shelters in Victoria but they said they feel safer staying together.
Screech said that while he knows the situation is not ideal, he thinks they should take the mats and work with housing providers for a more permanent solution.
“There’s no doubt there is obviously a real homeless issue in the region but I think that this has gone beyond that,” Screech said. “I think that [the camp has] run its course and when you’re resorting to criminal activity you have lost my support.”
While Screech said this protest has brought attention to the homelessness issue in the region, he said all levels of government are working hard to address it with new housing projects underway. By continuing this protest, Screech said, police resources are being used and it is costing taxpayers money.
“My bottom line is that they broke into a private property and I don’t think that’s any different than breaking into someone’s home,” Screech said. “Everything points to the fact that it needs to stop.”
Just two days before the U-Haul truck was seized from Thetis Lake Campground, campers were set up at Woodwyn Farm where Central Saanich police arrested 10 people, including camp leader Chrissy Brett, for mischief. On Sunday, they set up at Central Sannich’s public works yard in Keating.