Cynthia Diadick has created a petition to ‘save Beacon Hill Park’ from becoming a tent city as sights like the one pictured become a more common occurrence. (Provided by Cynthia Diadick)

Cynthia Diadick has created a petition to ‘save Beacon Hill Park’ from becoming a tent city as sights like the one pictured become a more common occurrence. (Provided by Cynthia Diadick)

Petition demands Victoria ‘save Beacon Hill Park’

Residents ask City do something to house those camping in Beacon Hill Park

A petition demanding the City ‘save Beacon Hill Park’ has garnered more than 5,000 signatures after a motion was passed by city council last month that allows people to shelter in parks 24 hours a day until June 25.

Cynthia Diadick, who lives near the park, started the petition after “writing letters to the mayor [and council] for three months” trying to find out what the plan was for those living in Beacon Hill Park.

“Basically, [the park] appears to be a small version of Pandora,” she says, adding that neighbours have been sending her messages about trash, needles and human waste being left in the park.

She stresses that those signing the petition “are not anti-homeless.”

“We are saying that we want this city and other levels of government – whoever it takes – to get together and get a plan and get people into housing because Beacon Hill is not a tent city,” she says.

RELATED: ‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

During the pandemic, more than 300 people living along Pandora Avenue and in Topaz Park were relocated to hotel rooms around the city. “Did we not buy enough hotels?” wonders Diadick.

The City changed the plan on where to house the homeless population during the pandemic a number of times. At first, they were all to be sheltered in three parks, which included Beacon Hill. Then it was only two parks and eventually, only Topaz Park was used to shelter people before many were moved into hotels.

“The solution is to buy another motel,” says Mayor Lisa Helps, adding that the City will continue to work with the provincial and federal governments to find those kinds of solutions. According to Helps all the motel rooms that have been secured are filled.

“It’s one of those solutions where everybody wins right? If the province buys another motel and moves people in from Beacon Hill, the people who are living outside are no longer left behind and the people who want their park back have their park back — so it’s quite simple.”

The petition also points to Beacon Hill Park Trust that states the park can only be used for recreation and enjoyment of the public.

RELATED: Beacon Hill Park will not be used to shelter Victoria’s homeless population, says Mayor

At the end of May, the City passed a motion that defers enforcement of a bylaw that only allows people to shelter in any park from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The motion also directs bylaw staff to not remove shelters or belongings that are abandoned or unoccupied until 72 hours after they’ve been tagged.

Diadick likens the motion to “doing your job with one hand tied behind your back.”

The City of Victoria also purchased two properties on Pandora Avenue for almost $10 million, as part of the plan to address affordable housing although Helps says there is no plan in place for the site as of yet.

Helps says the long term solution is building more modular housing with supports across the region.

“The City of Victoria is a tiny 20 square kilometre handkerchief of land … and there’s literally a certain point where there’s not going to be enough room for all the housing that’s needed,” she says.

“Other municipalities have more land and we’re going to need to have those conversations especially since the province is willing to put up funding for housing and supports.”


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

homeless housing

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

Just Posted

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

The O’Meara family – (left to right) Mari, Max, Adam and Rei – spent Saturday afternoon picking out the perfect tree. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

(Black Press Media file)
Webinars help Greater Victoria residents affected by dementia prepare for the holidays

COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions can add additional challenges for people living with dementia

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read