Cynthia Diadick has created a petition to ‘save Beacon Hill Park’ from becoming a tent city as sights like the one pictured become a more common occurrence. (Provided by Cynthia Diadick)

Cynthia Diadick has created a petition to ‘save Beacon Hill Park’ from becoming a tent city as sights like the one pictured become a more common occurrence. (Provided by Cynthia Diadick)

Petition demands Victoria ‘save Beacon Hill Park’

Residents ask City do something to house those camping in Beacon Hill Park

A petition demanding the City ‘save Beacon Hill Park’ has garnered more than 5,000 signatures after a motion was passed by city council last month that allows people to shelter in parks 24 hours a day until June 25.

Cynthia Diadick, who lives near the park, started the petition after “writing letters to the mayor [and council] for three months” trying to find out what the plan was for those living in Beacon Hill Park.

“Basically, [the park] appears to be a small version of Pandora,” she says, adding that neighbours have been sending her messages about trash, needles and human waste being left in the park.

She stresses that those signing the petition “are not anti-homeless.”

“We are saying that we want this city and other levels of government – whoever it takes – to get together and get a plan and get people into housing because Beacon Hill is not a tent city,” she says.

RELATED: ‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

During the pandemic, more than 300 people living along Pandora Avenue and in Topaz Park were relocated to hotel rooms around the city. “Did we not buy enough hotels?” wonders Diadick.

The City changed the plan on where to house the homeless population during the pandemic a number of times. At first, they were all to be sheltered in three parks, which included Beacon Hill. Then it was only two parks and eventually, only Topaz Park was used to shelter people before many were moved into hotels.

“The solution is to buy another motel,” says Mayor Lisa Helps, adding that the City will continue to work with the provincial and federal governments to find those kinds of solutions. According to Helps all the motel rooms that have been secured are filled.

“It’s one of those solutions where everybody wins right? If the province buys another motel and moves people in from Beacon Hill, the people who are living outside are no longer left behind and the people who want their park back have their park back — so it’s quite simple.”

The petition also points to Beacon Hill Park Trust that states the park can only be used for recreation and enjoyment of the public.

RELATED: Beacon Hill Park will not be used to shelter Victoria’s homeless population, says Mayor

At the end of May, the City passed a motion that defers enforcement of a bylaw that only allows people to shelter in any park from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The motion also directs bylaw staff to not remove shelters or belongings that are abandoned or unoccupied until 72 hours after they’ve been tagged.

Diadick likens the motion to “doing your job with one hand tied behind your back.”

The City of Victoria also purchased two properties on Pandora Avenue for almost $10 million, as part of the plan to address affordable housing although Helps says there is no plan in place for the site as of yet.

Helps says the long term solution is building more modular housing with supports across the region.

“The City of Victoria is a tiny 20 square kilometre handkerchief of land … and there’s literally a certain point where there’s not going to be enough room for all the housing that’s needed,” she says.

“Other municipalities have more land and we’re going to need to have those conversations especially since the province is willing to put up funding for housing and supports.”


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

homeless housing

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

Just Posted

Staff and volunteers at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea were disappointed by the theft of an educational porpoise skull likely taken on Jan. 8. (Courtesy of Tina Kelly)
Well-loved porpoise skull stolen from Sidney aquarium

Skull had been used for youth and visitor education and outreach for years

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

The Starbucks in Langford’s Westshore Town Centre is one of almost 300 storefronts that the U.S. coffee giant will be shutting across Canada by the end of March. (Google Maps)
Langford’s Westshore Town Centre Starbucks to close permanently

Popular coffee chain to close 300 storefronts across Canada by end of March

An Oak Bay Police officer handed out five tickets for “fail to obey stop sign” and two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, all within two hours at King George Terrace on Jan. 11. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)
Man confronts unmasked group at Oak Bay Marina

Oak Bay police issue plenty of tickets in short King George Terrace visit

Registered nurse Sammy Mullally displayed a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., in 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Councillors call on Saanich to address overdose crisis, explore options for safe consumption sites

‘There’s no vaccine for this problem,’ new action is needed, councillors say

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read