Victoria man assaulted, threatened while walking his dog near Beacon Hill Park
VICTORIA -- A Victoria resident was walking his dog around his house off Cook Street Tuesday night, just like he does every night, when he suddenly tripped over something on the sidewalk.
Paul Skalenda looked down and noticed an extension cord running across the empty parking lot and plugged into the outdoor outlet of Rexall Drugstore.
He unplugged the cord and was soon confronted by a man who had been sleeping behind the parking lot.
“He got very, very mad at me and told me he was going to kill me and gouge my eyes out and then he pushed me quite violently against the building,” he said.
Victoria police say they dispatched officers to the scene immediately and one officer spoke to the couple that evening.
As Skalenda was speaking with CTV News on Wednesday, the same individual who accosted and assaulted him came back and, again, uttered a death threat.
“(I’m) a little bit frightened about it, not sure what my reaction is going to be if I do see him out here again,” Skalenda said.
Since the homeless encampment began at Beacon Hill Park, Skalenda said crime has increased. On Monday morning, students woke up to a heavy police presence around the park after a man had been stabbed.
This isn’t the only neighbourhood experiencing violent crime. A brazen fight broke out on Queens Avenue and the windows at the former Comfort Inn, which is housing the homeless, were smashed on Wednesday.
The executive director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness said she understands why people are stressed, but wants everyone to take a moment before reacting.
“With the escalation and polarization between community groups and factions of society, the state of being right now is incredibly stressful for everybody,” said Kelly Roth.
A person who was moved from a tent on Pandora Avenue into the Howard Johnson hotel, which is housing people experiencing homelessness, said he recently moved out because of the violence and drug use.
“I am an addict,” said the man named Darcy. “I don’t want to be and I cannot quit when I am in that environment. This one is uncontrolled, so of course there is drugs, booze, prostitution, violence, thievery.”
According to the City of Victoria there are currently about 250 shelters in the Greater Victoria Area.
Skalenda said he no longer feels safe going for a walk in his own neighbourhood and wants this to change.
“We have a right to feel safe here and right now very few people do,” he said.