Victoria’s mayor and police chief both expressed extreme disappointment Wednesday afternoon after the city awoke to a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti.
Although police are still determining the exact timeline and number of locations hit, Victoria Police Chief Del Manak said they believe the vandalism occurred between midnight and 5 a.m. Wednesday morning. Among the targeted spots were Victoria businesses, the bylaw office and the provincial Ministry of Finance building.
The majority of the graffiti was anti-bylaw and pro-Beacon Hill Park. The worst of it was found along Douglas Street where two locations were vandalized with profane language directed at the city’s bylaw department. At the Victoria bylaw office, messages read “Support Beacon Hill” and “Stop Lying.”
Further along Douglas Street, at the provincial Ministry of Finance, “Support Your City” was scrawled out front. At a public washroom in Topaz Park, “Hate Sucks” and “Defend Beacon Hill” had been spray-painted on the outside.
“This is a really expensive and irresponsible way to get attention,” Mayor Helps said, pointing out that if people have an issue there are multiple other avenues for them to express it in, such as on social media or during a council meeting.
“To vandalize the city to make a point doesn’t do anybody any good,” Manak concurred. He added that several of the locations vandalized are businesses, which will now have to bear the cost of clean up on top of the burden of COVID-19.
Both Helps and Manak said they completely back the work that bylaw is doing.
“They’re doing their best in incredibly difficult circumstances,” Helps said. “They need to enforce bylaws because that’s their job.” Manak added that bylaw officers always request voluntary compliance before taking any enforcement measures.
“Parks are not homes and when we have 200 people living in parks its going to cause problems,” Helps said. Still, she insisted, Victoria’s parks are safe. Dangerous incidents have targeted bylaw officers specifically she said.
“I would really ask everyone to remain calm,” Helps said, pointing out that council approved funding for police to accompany bylaw officers last week and that the city is on track to have Victoria’s unhoused population sheltered by March 31.
Victoria police are asking for all victims, witnesses and anyone with surveillance video of Wednesday’s vandalism to come forward with information. Specifically, investigators are looking for video footage in the areas of the 700 to 2000-blocks of Douglas Street and the 600-block of Pandora Avenue from the night of Feb. 23 and early morning of Feb. 24.
VicPD’s report desk can be reached at 250-995-7654, extension 1. Anonymous reports can be made to Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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