Victoria elementary school parents concerned over nearby homeless camp
VICTORIA -- Students are returning to classrooms on Sept. 10, and that has parents with children attending Victoria's South Park Elementary School in James Bay concerned.
Parent’s are worried about a growing homeless encampment across the street from the school in Beacon Hill Park.
"I'm super concerned for the safety of our kids," said Laine Smoley, a mother of two children who will be attending South Park in September.
That concern is shared by Richard Fleming, a parent and a PAC (parent advisory council) member at the school.
"There is partly some drug use within that homeless community," said Fleming. "There have been needles found on our schoolground and there's been feces on our schoolgrounds."
Meanwhile, in the last week, six of the school’s windows have been smashed out.
Smoley says she has reached out to all levels of government and the Greater Victoria School District for answers.
"We've been in talks with people since June and haven't seen that much action," said Smoley.
She's getting frustrated and so is Victoria councillor Geoff Young. He says these concerns all stem from decisions made at the council table.
"I think council made the wrong decision in allowing daytime camping," Young told CTV News.
He went on to say that the homeless encampments are not a solution for either the campers or the neighbouring community.
"It's not healthy for the people living there," said Young. "They're not addressing their issues and it is certainly not a good thing for the surrounding neighbourhoods."
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps met with South Park’s principal and PAC on Thursday.
She tells CTV News that she recognizes there are issues and is working with the school, and the city’s parks and bylaw staff to address them.
"Our perspective, as a school community, is not to demonize people in the park," said Fleming.
"There have always been people in Beacon Hill Park and Beacon Hill Park is an extension of our schoolgrounds in many regards," he said. "The thing that parents care about is the safety and security of kids."
Parents say they need their concerns to be addressed before the new school year begins.