Angry neighbours of Goldstream Park tent city hold meeting with mayor
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, September 24, 2018 10:40AM PDT
Last Updated Monday, September 24, 2018 11:04AM PDT
Dozens of angry neighbours packed a Langford pub to voice their growing frustrations over a tent city that has set up in Goldstream Provincial Park.
Residents gathered at Ma Miller's Pub Sunday to meet with Langford Mayor Stew Young and express concerns over the encampment, which moved to the park from Saanich last Tuesday.
The roving tent city had previously made its way through three sites in Saanich, including a months-long stay at Regina Park.
Some neighbours told Young they were worried about a possible spike in crime in Langford linked to the encampment, and said they wanted to see something done before things get out of hand.
"The reputation that follows them wherever they go, whether it be damage to the environment, the drug use, the perceived crime, the property crime that seems to associate with them wherever they go," said Gordon Munro.
Young said there are signs the issue is already starting to affect local tourism.
"B.C. has a brand, and our parks are world-renowned all over and yet now we have homeless people in there," said Young. "I've had comments from people from California saying hey, we're not coming back here. We're gonna tell our people we came here to beautiful British Columbia, the branding we've had for years, and now you've got homeless people shooting up in washrooms and things like this."
The park remains closed to recreational campers, but homeless campers living there have been permitted to stay indefinitely while the provincial government seeks alternative housing options for them.
The province has said it's also looking for municipalities to provide land for modular housing to help with the ongoing homeless problem in the region.
So far, only Victoria and Saanich have identified space for units of supportive housing that would host low-income residents.
Young has been outspoken in his opposition to modular housing in his city.