West Shore RCMP officers discovered needles at the Goldstream Provincial Campground on Friday.
At approximately 8:30 a.m., officers were conducting a foot patrol through the campsite area where Tent City residents were staying. A walk through a heavily wood area revealed several needles, including some outside of their protective packaging.
Officers spoke with camp leader Chrissy Brett, and according to a statement, “advised her that open drug use and negligence by having open needles around a campground was clearly not acceptable as there could be children or pets sharing this same space.”
According to police, Brett stated that campers had cleaned up all of the needles at 6:30 p.m. the night before and she would immediately have others clean up the site and pick up all remaining open and unopened needles they could find.
“We recognize that past ‘Tent City’ camps in the region have resulted in an escalation in crime rates and calls for service from the public. I am committed to keeping the West Shore area safe and will increase patrols and police presence to ensure that all citizens are protected,” said Insp. Todd Preston, West Shore RCMP officer in charge.
The local detachment has received a number of calls for service since homeless campers move to Langford.
On Wednesday, Sept. 19, a nearby resident reported a possible attempted break and enter in the 2800-block of Canyon Park Place – near Goldstream Provincial Park shortly before 11 a.m. Two men approached a neighbour’s house and when they realized someone was inside, they fled on foot. The caller believed the men were associated with the homeless campers.
Shortly before 4:30 p.m., the West Shore RCMP’s bike unit arrested a woman associated with the homeless campers who had an outstanding warrant for her arrest. She was transferred to Saanich Police custody – the holder of the warrant – and appeared in court Thursday morning.
Park rangers at Goldstream also reported firewood had been stolen from the park and that some of the campers had started to disturb the site looking for materials to burn.
While officers were on side investigating the rangers’ complaints, several people from the group began yelling and swearing at the officers. Campers also threw various items, upset police were on scene.
Later in the evening, at approximately 6:30 p.m., a neighbouring resident requested police provide extra patrols as they were concerned for the safety of children going back and forth to school and potentially coming into contact with homeless campers. Police reiterated there was no specific incident associated with this call but the caller was concerned about the occupants of the campground.
At approximately 7:15 p.m., a stolen vehicle was recovered just outside of Goldstream Provincial Park. Police seized the vehicle to continue gathering evidence.
On Thursday, Sept. 20, provincial park rangers reported several incidents of criminal activity to police. These reports came from other campers not associated with the homeless camp and included theft from other campsites within the park (such as chairs, tables and firewood), mischief, and damage to the park gate.
Before leaving, other campers also noted they saw open drug use occurring in the public washroom facilities and needles used by subjects believed to be from the homeless group. Some campers noted they did not feel safe camping at the site due to the large group and the criminal activity that had started since their arrival.
The local detachment noted they have spoken with park staff and will continue to investigate all criminal matters and complaints as per their normal procedures. However, they added, they will be relying on park staff to enforce park rules and regulations but will assist as required.