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

Saanich Peninsula plugs into EV ownership

Sidney and Central Saanich record the second and third-highest EV ownership rate per 1,000 residents

PHOTOS: Kids, parents cool off at Langford splash park

Centennial Park is home to a popular water feature

Colwood man to ride 400 kilometres to fight kids cancer

Man riding for a beloved family member who died from leukemia at 13-years-old

Saanich woman completes 10 marathons, raises double her initial goal amount

Over $20,000 raised for Victoria Hospitals Foundation

UPDATED: Missing 25-year-old Saanich woman found Saturday

Yuhan Jin thought to be travelling by foot or bus, carrying two suitcases

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Travel restrictions inspiring co-operation in border communities

Small border towns are asking for exemption to travel ban

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

Woman arrested near Nanaimo beach after alleged road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Raptors kneel for both American and Canadian anthems ahead of tipoff

Majority of players have substituted their names on the backs of their jerseys with racial and social justice messages

Most Read