VICTORIA -- Staff with Victoria's parks and recreation department are refusing certain work duties after two parks employees were threatened in Beacon Hill Park this week.

The city says it is investigating an incident Tuesday, when someone in the park threatened to harm a pair of employees as well as members of the public. The workers went to a safe location and called 911.

"Since the incident, a group of parks staff have exercised their right to refuse work, and we are working with the union to support our staff and ensure their working rights are respected," said city spokesperson Amy Bronee in a statement to CFAX 1070.

"The city is conducting an investigation and until that is complete, staff will be limiting their work in Beacon Hill Park to only garbage pickups and washroom cleaning to mitigate impacts for the public," Bronee said.

The work yard inside Beacon Hill Park, off Cook Street, continues to operate.

Bronee said there has been an increase in confrontations between city staff and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people are sheltering in the park.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she was "disheartened" when she learned of the recent threats against staff.

"We are in extraordinary times," Helps said in a statement. "We cannot forget that the pandemic is still with us and is presenting challenges for us all. No matter the circumstances we’re in, everyone deserves to feel safe in their workplace."

The mayor said she is proud of the "exceptional work" parks staff have been doing under "challenging circumstances," and said she will continue to advocate for permanent housing and mental health supports for the homeless.