Vernon Lord, here seen standing in front of the fenced-off Regina Park, says Saanich should explore the creation of a designated area for homeless in consultation and collaboration with other regional municipalities. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Saanich councillor candidate wants a designated public space for homeless

Vernon Lord says residents living near homeless camp deserve more consultation

Vernon Lord, a candidate for councillor in Saanich, says the region can help the homeless by carving out a public space for them.

“I believe the answer is we have to allocate an area,” he said. “I don’t know where that area is right now, because it would take consultation with the residents of the Saanich, Saanich council, lawyers, [and so on]. But we need to designate an area for a park, a transient park. We can call what we want, but the point is Saanich needs to get ahead of it.”

RELATED: Tent city in Saanich’s Regina Park shuts down

Saanich cannot merely react to homeless camps as they spring up, he said. “I understand they have terrible issues, and they have to be addressed,” he said. But Saanich cannot constantly shift its resources from one location to the next location, he said. “We have to designate an area, so that area is safe for the campers, and safe for the residents.”

Lord made these comments as he was standing outside the fence that has cordoned off Regina Park from the public.

For five months, it was the site of a camp that housed more than 100 individuals at its peak, before Saanich police closed it down, following a court ruling.

Camp leaders suggested in the past that Camp Namegans as they called their camp, could become Canada’s first urban reserve and authorities in the Greater Victoria region including Saanich have mused about the possibility of carving out a space where homeless could shelter overnight.

Lord acknowledged these past efforts, but laments the absence of follow through. “But was there any consultation?” he asked. “Did the camp leaders [consult]? And it wouldn’t just be Saanich. It would be the entire 13 [municipalities]. We need a place. We need to work together, and come up with a place. Maybe it’s in Saanich. Maybe it’s in Victoria.”

RELATED: Neighbour nears the breaking point over Regina Park camp

During Thursday’s first all-candidates’ forum, Lord said he entered the race because he wants to be a voice for residents who live near homeless camps.

“These people are always overlooked, and all the focus is on the transients or the homeless,” he said. “I never, ever said that the homeless don’t need to be taken care of. We need to open our hearts and our wallets, and our compassion. That goes without saying. But I’m just saying we need to apply that same philosophy to these people here also.”

So what have been the appropriate response?

Lord said authorities across the region should have started to address the issue of homelessness years ago, when the homeless camp in downtown Victoria appeared.

Lord enters the race as an unknown figure in municipal affairs, something he readily acknowledged during Thursday’s all-candidates forum.

The married father of four arrived in Saanich some 14 months ago from the Portland area after having lived and worked across different parts of Canada and the United States. But Lord does not consider his status as a recent arrival a detriment.

In fact, he plans to drawn heavily on the urban development lessons that he has learned from living on either side of the border, especially when it comes to managing and avoiding the worst effects of urban booms.

For Lord, who has lived in communities large and small, Saanich has become a special place.

“I have never felt more at home than I have [in Saanich], and I have lived in many places,” he said. “Sometimes, it just feels right. This is truly a special place, and it has to be preserved, especially rural Saanich. That is our legacy … and we need to protect it at all costs.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria security company sees jump in clients in lower downtown after influx of thefts

Themis Security has signed several new contracts for businesses in lower Yates, Johnson streets area

Victoria ranks as 16th least affordable city in the world

Vancouver, as well as the Fraser Valley, Nanaimo and Comox Valley also crack the Top 25

Saanich mayor signs up for mason bee rental service

Fred Haynes rents mason bee colony from Oyster River beekeeper for his Prospect Lake home

Number of EI recipients up 8.1 per cent in Greater Victoria, but unemployment remains low

Greater Victoria recorded the lowest unemployment in December 2019

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

B.C. still struggling to control non-resident medical care fraud

Unpaid bills, out-of-province claimants a costly legacy of MSP

Most Read