More tales of violence and growing frustration for those living near Pandora tent city
VICTORIA -- The ramshackle tent city that dominates Pandora Avenue continues to exact a toll on those living nearby.
Julia Simons is one of those people and says the situation is getting worse.
“I’ve never felt threatened until this tent city went up,” Simons told CTV News Vancouver Island on Friday.
Jennifer Sizer, who also lives in the area, says she was assaulted recently.
“I was attacked two weeks ago by someone who I said I wouldn’t give something to, who ran up to me and tried to spit on myself and the dogs,” Sizer said.
On Thursday, Jennifer Hutter recounted her fear after her apartment building was the target of armed break-and-enters on eight of the past 11 days.
“This state that has been allowed here, we really need to take back Pandora; we need to take back the city,” she said.
Victoria City Council voted Thursday to give $52,500 more funding to the Victoria Police Department to beef up policing at Topaz Park.
Still, Hutter and her neighbours worry that funding may not be enough to adequately address the growing violence in their area, and she’s disappointed that city councillors Ben Isitt and Sharmarke Dubow voted against providing the funding.
Isitt did not respond to requests for an interview by Friday afternoon.
Dubow told CTV News he voted against an increase to the police budget because he favours an approach involving deploying more social workers and focusing on combating fear of the homeless and mental health and addiction issues.
Hutter and her neighbours say they know it’s a complex issue, and that many folks living in tents are themselves the targets of crime, a sad fact emphasized by Grant Mackenzie, who works at Our Place shelter.
“Those people are the majority that we serve, but there is a small group that whenever you have a vulnerable group you have predators who come in, they tend to be the criminal element,” Mackenzie said.
Victoria’s police chief, Del Manak, says that although the funding he got Thursday is earmarked for Topaz Park, it will also help with policing around Pandora Avenue.
“What that allows me to (do is) dedicate resources to Topaz Park, which then free up other resources to police other parts of the city,” Manak said.
Meanwhile, the provincial government is expected to make a significant announcement Saturday about supporting the homeless populations in Vancouver and Victoria.