LETTER: Opposition to tent city doesn’t make you a bigot

“I do not support the tent city at Regina Park”

Because of that statement, I’ve been called anti-homeless, a NIMBY, hateful, and even a bigot. Organizers and advocates of Camp Namegans would like to have the public believe, that if you do not support the occupation of Regina Park, that you are a despicable human being. Let me tell you, that voicing your opinion against the occupation of Regina Park does not make you the awful person they want to paint you to be. It’s possible to be against the tent city, and to not be anti-homeless, hateful, a NIMBY, or a bigot.

My reason for wanting the tent city gone has nothing to do with the fact that some of those occupying the park are homeless, or to do with the colour of their skin. I’m against the park, because I’m not OK with the actions and situations that have followed it into a neighbourhood that is full of families and young children. It’s a neighbourhood made up of hard working citizens, whose houses are their biggest investments in life.

For clarity, not only do I live in Saanich, but I live directly beside the park. What I’ve seen and the opinions I have are not from what I’ve read online through social media, or what I have seen in the media. They are from my very own eyes, and the eyes of my neighbours.

I’m not anti-homeless. I’m anti-crime, and crime has drastically increased in our neighbourhood since the tent city arrived. Drug use happens in plain view, with needles being discarded without any regard to public safety, and even at times maliciously planted. I’m against drugs being delivered to the camp as if they were ice cream from an ice cream truck. I’m against the trespassing that has been occurring on residential property, that has included theft from vehicles, theft from sheds, swimming in backyard pools,damaging properties, and theft from yards. I’m against the spike in theft that has happened not only to residential homes, but also to businesses in the area. I’m against the constant urination and defecation in Regina Park. I’m tired of being woken up at night due to noise or alterations. I’m not okay with the intimidation tactics of hanging nooses and calling it their complaint department, of uttering threats and shouting racial slurs at some those in the neighborhood who are first generation Canadians.

Just as being homeless doesn’t make one a criminal or a drug addict, being against tent city doesn’t make one hateful , a NIMBY, or a bigot.

It’s very difficult to engage in any constructive dialogue with organizers and supporters of the tent city, when if you voice any of these concerns you are only going to be called a hateful NIMBY bigot. Last time I checked, being against crime did not make one racist. They will try to tell you that you are criminalizing the homeless community by reporting these crimes and speaking out against them. I say false. Accountability should be taken by those that commit the crime, not those who call it in. It’s the actions by some from tent city that add to the stigma they so desperately want to shed.

A Camp Namagans organizer was on the radio said that they had asked two people to leave the camp because they didn’t agree with their actions, and that they have the right to build the community they want to be a part of. These individuals who were asked to leave also had nowhere to go. Why is okay for the organizers of the tent city to speak out against the actions they disagree with, but it’s not OK for the residents living near Regina Park? Why is it acceptable for them to say that they have the right to build the community they want, but those of us that are law-abiding-taxpaying citizens can’t be against a tent city that has negatively impacted our community? Do we not have a say in the community we want? It’s hypocritical is what it is.

Whether you are homed or homeless, the same rules should apply.

Steven Marshall

Saanich

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