Police and bylaw officers will begin “sustained bylaw enforcement” on people sheltering in Topaz Park.
Victoria police in a Monday afternoon news release said calls to the park were up in the first five months of this year, but did not say if any charges had been laid in connection to those calls. VicPD has not responded to a request for comment.
The news release said officers are conducting the enforcement after responding to community concerns and “significant increases” in the severity of calls so far this year. The enforcement will continue daily to ensure those sheltering in the park remove their structures by 7 a.m. each day, police said.
A graph accompanying the news release showed police were called to the park 87 times in the first five months of the year, compared to 53 and 68 calls over that same period in 2022 and 2021, respectively.
Assist calls, where police join city workers who are enforcing bylaw issues, were the top reason police attended the park so far this year, while violence-related calls ranked the lowest with the graph showing fewer than five incidents as of May 31.
“Officers and bylaw staff have provided significant advanced warning to those who are sheltering in the park that they will have to remove structures, in keeping with the City of Victoria’s overnight sheltering bylaws,” VicPD said in its release, adding many structures have become semi-permanent.
“Officers are responding to concerns from area residents, sports teams and other park users that the area has become unsafe.”
The City of Victoria has not yet responded to a request for comment on why the actions are needed now and whether it will be connecting those in the park with housing options or other supports.