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Victoria police promise 'sustained enforcement' at Topaz Park amid growing community concerns

A tent is set up at Topaz Park in Victoria. Dec. 9, 2022. (CTV News) A tent is set up at Topaz Park in Victoria. Dec. 9, 2022. (CTV News)

Victoria police say officers will be at Topaz Park on an ongoing basis for the foreseeable future amid growing calls for service related to the park.

Police say they will be conducting "sustained enforcement" at the park, which has seen a 60 per cent increase in calls for service in the first five months of 2023 compared to 2022.

Police say calls for service are the highest they have been in the past three years, and the severity of the calls are also troubling.

(VicPD)"Many of these calls are due to concerns of public disorder, and assistance calls in which police officers are required to help keep City of Victoria bylaw staff safe as they enforce City of Victoria bylaws," said VicPD in a release Monday.

"In addition to the increased calls for service, officers are responding to concerns from area residents, sports teams, and other park users that the area has become unsafe."

Police say they've given advanced warning to people sheltering at the park of the increased enforcement.

Some of the enforcement will be related to Victoria's overnight sheltering bylaws and making sure that people pack up their shelters by 7 a.m. each morning.

"Many of these structures have become semi-permanent fixtures," said VicPD.

Police say they officers from its general investigation section and outreach section will be conducting the enforcement, alongside City of Victoria bylaw staff.

Earlier this year, a neighbourhood resident said he was "flabbergasted" when a couple began digging in the Quadra Heights playground, near Topaz Park, eventually uncovering a hand crossbow, which he initially thought was a gun.

"Topaz Park right now – it will never be as bad as tent city when 400 people were living there – but it's as worse as it's ever been since then," said the resident, who asked not to be identified.

In December 2022, a teenage girl was also sexually assaulted in Topaz Park by two men.

The assault had the community on edge, particularly people who live in the area, and nearby Ecole Secondaire Victoria High School sent out a letter to families warning of the crime.

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