Death of shopping-cart philosopher and Mayor Dave a reality check for Saanich

Peter Verin’s death came just a week after that of “Mayor” Dave Armitage. They were two of Saanich’s most recognizable faces.

Was Peter Verin a logical person?

In many ways, yes. But not as most of us might think it.

If you talked to him, you knew he had some issues. But who doesn’t?

Verin’s death came just a week after that of “Mayor” Dave Armitage. They were two of Saanich’s most recognizable faces.

Verin, who was based out of the Lochside Trail in the Reynolds neighbourhood, died in hospital  – Saanich Police made sure he got there when his health declined –  while Armitage was found unexpectedly in Gorge Park, his home turf.

Beloved by hundreds, befriended by hundreds, and yet, they were homeless by the definition.

Why?

Because, as Saanich’s Nathalie Chambers says, the system doesn’t fit everyone.

The loss of Armitage and Verin in an 11-day span could go down as one of the greatest coincidences in Saanich history. It certainly isn’t lost on the Saanich Police, whose community engagement division are in the midst of launching Park Watch.

The first signs are up at Gorge Park, where Sgt. Andy Stuart and Const. Lisa Bruschetta frequently came across visitors such as Armitage quite often. Cuthbert Holmes, Bryden and more parks are soon to follow.

Park Watch is about residents taking ownership of the park. The idea is to watch out for one another.

We know Verin was kind and friendly, gung-ho for intellectually charged conversation. But he was also a stubborn fellow who wanted to be left to his own devices, refusing shelter offers and most forms of charity. And we know Armitage was successful in getting off the street at certain points of his life. Most importantly, we know they loved their respective Saanich neighbourhoods. They may have been  houseless, at least in our eyes, but for all intents and purposes, for good or for bad, they’d found a home.

Verin’s funeral service is Thursday. Like Armitage’s from a few days ago, Verin’s will likely draw a large crowd. Like the Mayor, the shopping-cart philosopher will be missed.