Neighbours of Saanich homeless camp beg police, district for action
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, March 5, 2018 11:00AM PST
Last Updated Monday, March 5, 2018 6:39PM PST
Neighbours of a permanent homeless camp in Saanich say the site is damaging the surrounding ecosystem, and they're calling on police to intervene.
The Cuthbert Holmes Park campsite behind the Tillicum Recreation Centre is full of personal belongings and garbage that has caught the attention of locals.
A group led by Gorge-Tillicum Community Association President Rob Wickson says the District of Saanich is ignoring the problem because for the most part, it's out of sight.
Residents say the make-shift campsite has been there for years, but recently, the impact has become overwhelming for park users.
"There are places they can camp that don't do this kind of damage," said Wickson. "Stop them camping from here, it should be an absolute no-go. Victoria's done the same thing, they've taken some parks off the list of allowable camp spots. Why aren't we doing that?"
In the meantime, police said in a statement they are aware of the situation at the park and that they will "continue to monitor each situation on a case-by-case basis."
Locals say they understand the complex nature of Victoria's homeless situation, but feel more resources need to be dedicated to monitoring the park.
"This is a health issue, this is an environmental issue, this is a standards of care issue," said Wickson.
Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell has a planned meeting with B.C.'s housing minister later this month, and said banning campers outright could lead to legal issues.
"If we just boot them from this park, they're going to end up in another park, and they're going to move to another park and another park," Atwell said Monday. "So what's the lesser of the two that we have to choose as a solution?"
He said Saanich has no plans to force the campers out before they're offered a better place to live.