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Tenting in Victoria city parks is up this summer

‘Tourists’ blamed for increase, with shelter beds numbers also up
A cart sits in front of a tent pitched in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday evening. Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS

The number of people sheltering in parks this summer is up from last year.

Although the summer months generally see a greater amount of camping in city parks, this year’s numbers are even higher, despite more shelter beds being made available since tent city shut down last year. Victoria city clerk Chris Coates told councillors recently that the additional tenters may not be local people who cannot find shelter.

“There’s perhaps other folks that are here because this sort of activity is possible in the city,” he said during the Aug. 10 committee of the whole meeting.

Coates surmised there is likely a relationship between people coming from out of town and the increase in city park tenting. Whether they are tourists, he said, information available at this time is anecdotal. “We don’t have details on where folks come from; we’re more concerned that the number of people that we’re dealing with.”

Coates also noted a direct connection exists between the number of people camping in parks and the reduced funding from senior governments for summertime shelter beds. Many of the facilities used in colder months for temporary shelter provide public programming through the summer, which limits the number of beds available.

Mayor Lisa Helps suggested ticketing campers from out of town may deter others from doing the same.

“I’m very sympathetic to people who have nowhere to live who shelter in our parks, but I’m very unsympathetic to people who think they can come and camp in the capital city in a park for free. That doesn’t make any sense,” she said.

A person in a sleeping bag under a tree Tuesday evening in Beacon Hill Park. Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS

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