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LETTER: Victoria council disregards law on sheltering in Beacon Hill Park

So Mayor Lisa Helps, Couns. Ben Isitts, Sara Potts, Shamarke Dubow, Jeremy Loveday, Marianne Alto and Charlene Thornton-Joe are disregarding the law by allowing sheltering in Beacon Hill Park.

Despite a petition of more than 30,000 people protesting sheltering in Beacon Hill Park, Mayor Helps continued to allow it, even though the trust that governs the park clearly stated that it was not to be used for such purposes.

In media reports, the mayor was arrogantly dismissive of this law on the basis of the time period in which it was issued and suggested that it was no longer relevant, as if the issue of time alone is sufficient to invalidate a legal agreement.

Then, the city engages in a protracted legal case to “clarify the question” as to whether sheltering is allowed in the park, which cost the Friends of Beacon Hill, the society engaged in helping to protect the park, thousands of dollars in legal fees.

During this time, we saw chaos and mayhem in the park, environmental destruction, a murder, beatings and another death in a vehicle. Neighbourhood break-ins increased, with vulnerable seniors often the victims of these crimes. Citizens felt unsafe to go to a park that they were paying for through their taxes. Bylaw officers refused to go to the park unless accompanied by police officers.

Fortunately, we still have judges in B.C. who adhere to the law. Judge Punnett’s decision served to prove that the mayor and councillors were wrong and the citizens correct.

The community not only had to pay for the city’s lawyer, but another lawyer to enforce an existing legal trust.

Given the incredible waste and the fact that all these councillors broke the law by passing the sheltering bylaw, it is appropriate that all of them resign.

With this case, and others, they have proven to be unqualified and unfit to be in public office.

Carol Auld

Victoria