Mayor Stew Young told concerned residents that he has requested meetings with all relevant provincial ministers to deal with the homeless camp that has moved into the campground at Goldstream Provincial Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

West Shore residents hold forum to voice frustration with Goldstream Park homeless camp

Some 200 residents fill local pub pointing fingers, claiming crime on the rise, safety at risk

Some 200 residents, many visibly angry and emotional, packed a West Shore pub Sunday to urge provincial officials including their local MLA, Premier John Horgan, to move the homeless camp in Goldstream Provincial Park to a different location.

The event was advertised as a forum for residents to voice their concerns, and was not without its tensions.

“Get this group out of here, so we can have our park back,” said one resident Mark, who declined to provide his last name.

An estimated 40 homeless campers, who arrived from Saanich Tuesday, are living in the campground at Goldstream Park after police had ordered them out of Regina Park, as well as a camp near the corner of Ravine Way and Carey Road.

Their presence has sparked a negative reaction from residents and local officials including Langford Mayor Stew Young, who attended Sunday’s gathering at Ma Miller’s Pub.

Young asked attendees to avoid generalizations about the homeless residents. “Not everybody in the camp is doing drugs,” he said. “Not everybody is criminal.”

He also tempered expectations, noting among other points that the provincial government currently lacks sufficient housing, but made clear that he feels the responsibility to house people lies with the provincial government, not with the municipality.

“It is up to the provincial government to help the residents with supportive services around the clock,” he said.

Young also expressed frustration with the province’s response to the issue, saying he has asked for appointments in the coming days with all ministers involved.

RELATED: Victoria’s roving tent city moves to Goldstream Park

Heidi Hartman, a regional director with BC Housing, told the crowd that additional support services were on their way. However, BC Housing cannot force people to accept housing, unless an extreme cold weather event is unfolding, she added.

Hartman, nor two representatives from Horgan’s office, could answer some of the key questions on the minds of concerned residents, namely how long the camp would remain at Goldstream Park.

As speaker after speaker took the floor, their comments made it clear the community wants the camp as gone as quickly as possible, citing concerns about increased crime.

RELATED: Neighbours fear impact of tent city residents on Goldstream Provincial Park

Gordon, who did not give his last name, said he (like other residents) is not against the homeless, but the behaviour that often follows them. He added that he and his neighbours have started late night patrols to ensure the safety of the nearby neighbourhood.

Others raised concern about the impact that the residents will have on the provincial park.

“As far as I am concerned, the integrity of this park has been compromised,” Mark said.

One speaker referred to the residents as “slime,” a comment that earned her some rebuke, but also quiet toleration. One man sitting away from the stage referred to the camp residents as “professional protesters.”

RELATED: Langford Mayor upset with province over homeless camp

But, residents also heard from Morgan van Humbeck, a camp resident, who told them the campers of Namegans Nation are working hard to maintain the integrity of the park.

Van Humbeck also agreed that more must be done to deal with homelessness at the root level.

As for specific recommendations, residents appeared to be in agreement that the camp should move to a nearby park.

Camp leader Chrissy Brett said everyone is free to voice their opinion, adding that camp residents would welcome the opportunity to engage with residents in a non-alcoholic environment.

She also appeared open to the idea of moving, if the province would provide the necessary supportive services, especially for those with mobility challenges.

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

How Victoria’s little Ecole Beausoleil is at the heart of a national court case

100-year-old Bank Street school and the Sundance facility to be re-designated an elementary school

Join Oak Bay’s heritage walk and scavenger hunt this Saturday

Hunt seeks significant examples of historical architecture in Oak Bay

Mayor’s charity tournament sells out both Bear Mountain courses

23rd annual event raises funds to make ‘a positive difference in Langford’

Saanich councillor questions effectiveness of free transit passes for youth

Coun. Judy Brownoff said efforts should focus on improving service levels

Greater Victoria teacher’s certification suspended for inappropriate conduct with female students

Gregory Garos was employed by the District as a middle school teacher

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

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

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Most Read