Thousands sign petition to move campers from Beacon Hill Park
VICTORIA -- An online petition that calls for the City of Victoria to move homeless campers out of Beacon Hill Park has garnered more than 4,000 signatures in just four days.
The petition, found on Change.org, says that community members have concerns over safety and damage to the park’s rare and sensitive Garry Oak ecosystem.
The city approved all-day camping at the park in May for homeless campers seeking shelter in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My utmost worry is the damage to the park and the fact that people don’t feel safe,” said Cynthia Diadick, the petition’s organizer.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps responded to some of the concerns over Twitter, saying that she was open to alternative ideas from the community.
“If people who signed the petition have any ideas about where we house and support 100 people living in the park, please share,” she wrote.
People who work with the homeless say that the provincial government has been doing the right thing by buying hotels like the Comfort Inn to use as shelters.
“Buy more, get them off the street – we have a responsibility to get them off the street,” said Reverend Alan Tysick, executive director of the Dandelion Society.
Diadick says she agrees with the idea.
“When I see people who are obviously deeply hurting and they’re living in tents I think it's deplorable. I think we as a society owe them as much help as we can give them,” she said.
In a statement, BC Housing told CTV News that since March, the provincial government has made over 500 indoor spaces available to Victoria’s most vulnerable.
“We know others still need support and that is why the province, BC Housing and partners like the City of Victoria are continuing to look at a number of ways to bring people inside and options continue to evolve along with the community,” said BC Housing.