• stephenandrew

Camping in Beacon Hill Park

Photo credit: Victoria Times Colonist

I am clear where I stand on this issue - camping is not a solution to homelessness and camping should not be allowed in Beacon Hill Park.

We need a definite statement from Dr. Bonnie Henry on her #COVID19 orders as to whether she supports them being interpreted to support 24/7 camping in parks - not “just” in Victoria but across BC.

We have different rules in each municipality and this is creating confusion and inequitable care management of our homeless population.

Victoria allows 24/7 camping whereas neighbouring Saanich and Oak Bay do not.

When Victoria Council took the step to not enforce its camping bylaw, what on earth did it expect would happen?! Of course we saw an influx of homeless to our city.

But, it’s fair to point out that every action has a reaction and, once again, Council did not consider the consequences of its action.

The move placed extra pressure on Victoria Service Providers, Bylaw, Police, City Staff, Parks staff and the thousands and thousands of dollars to manage and restore damage to our community.

Victoria simply doesn’t have the resources to go it alone on this issue.

There is palpable anger over what we see in parks and on our streets. People are furious - and they have a right to be. It’s our tax dollars that are being used and, despite Council’s apparent belief, we do not have an endless supply.

I sense much of the anger is directed at the poor planning by council. If this issue was properly managed, the impact on our city should be minimal.

So, where do we go from here?

Let’s stop fighting. Let’s demand answers - answers that we can deal with and move forward.

Resource the issue. If we went back to 7-7 camping, we would still have the fallout from the sheer number of homeless now living in our small city. Council needs to take action and work with neighbouring municipalities so we are all on the same page and we work with a “Regional Distributed Model” for shelter and supported housing.

Open more services. We need to remove the argument that “the vulnerable population needs to be in Victoria because that’s where services are”. Nonsense. It’s a fallacy that the services can only operate in Victoria.

Saanich, Oak Bay, Central Saanich, Langford and all municipalities should have support services - make them mobile - but Council needs to extinguish that old chestnut from other local politicians’ bag of verbal tricks.

Listen. Look, I don’t have all the answers, but I am willing to listen and at least acknowledge the different viewpoints. Some will disagree with me, but I’m going to listen. I want to be respectful and I really want to learn and find answers that are realistic and we can implement. We “all” need to do that.

Also, acknowledge there is trauma here - from many angles; trauma from being homeless, trauma from losing access to our parks, trauma from the crime and social disorder that is affecting our lives, and so on. I hope we can recognize this in each other and find a way through. It isn’t easy - I’ve experienced it all and still trying to come to terms with what’s happening.

And we need our City Council to do its job, get back in its lane and stop trying to be a provincial and federal government.

Honestly, to City Council; I don’t care if you have aspirations of higher office, that you want to bring about a revolution, or if you want to build legacies to yourself - do the job you were elected to do; RUN VICTORIA and all the boring issues that come with municipal governance. If you want to be an MLA or MP or an Ambassador of whatever for whoever, focus on the job you have now.

I believe the majority of citizens you represent are tired of your antics. I know I am.



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© 2020 by Stephen Andrew