Landscaper laments Victoria’s urban decay after being pricked by needle downtown
VICTORIA -- Homelessness can be seen everywhere in Victoria these days, and in many areas, finding dirty needles and human excrement is becoming a common occurrence.
Kim Hall owns Ms. Green Thumbs’ Landscaping in Victoria, and she says she’s had enough.
She has now cancelled a lucrative contract with a downtown business in the Store Street neighbourhood after she was pricked by a used needle while at work.
“I found 19 needles in three days,” said Hall. “It’s a sad time for downtown Victoria.”
On Friday, Hall wasn’t working. Instead, she was waiting for the results of a recent blood test.
“I was actually pricked above my glove, in my arm,” she said.
The six-month contract, worth up to $75,000, was to re-landscape the client’s downtown property.
“For me to give up a contract because of what I’m working around is even sadder,” said Hall.
She is now refusing to ever take another contract in Victoria’s downtown core.
“I’ve never seen Victoria like this,” she said. “I’ve never seen so much filth, so much needles, so much feces.”
“It’s like it’s just become normal, everyday scenery in Victoria, and it shouldn’t be.”
There are four homeless encampments in the city, the largest being Beacon Hill Park. The other three are at Centennial Square, Crystal Pool and Cecelia Ravine Park. The camps have meant public perception of the downtown core has taken a hit.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps told CTV News on Friday that there are challenges and the city has to address them.
The mayor says she’s heard the calls for the core to get cleaned up and is now reacting.
“What we’ve done is created a new team in public works,” said Helps. “It’s a four-person team who is being trained up right now with PPE and all the things they need to do.”
“We know there’s a problem and they’ll be out on the streets taking care of the issues.”
According to Helps, that team will be starting either Sunday or Monday and will be on the job seven days a week.
“They’ll be picking up garbage on sidewalks, left-behind socks, needles and feces,” said Helps.
For Hall, who was born and raised in Victoria, it’s too little, too late.
“I’m a landscaper,” she said. “I love making things look beautiful. I love creating things, but going through mulch and dirt to try to find needles is not what I thought my job was going to be two years ago, when I started my company.”
“It’s absolutely shameful what is going on, absolutely shameful.”
Going forward, Hall will only be taking contracts outside the city’s downtown core. She hopes to get the results of her blood test by Monday.