Alex Berns

Upset residents say ‘enough is enough’ for abortion protests

Residents of View Royal housing complex becoming increasingly frustrated with weekly abortion vigil just steps from their front doors

Residents of a housing complex in View Royal are becoming increasingly frustrated with weekly abortion vigil just steps from their front doors.

At least three residents of the converted motel at the intersection of Island Highway and Helmcken Road said they’re tired of having the protestors out on what feels like their front yard.

The protestors are there because of the nearby Vancouver Island Women’s Clinic in View Royal Square, which performs abortions, among other sexual health services.

The 40 Days for Life protestors are there with signs to pray and talk to anyone who approaches them every Thursday morning.

Every year, the group also holds two 40-days vigils in which protestors march for 12 hours each day.

Most of the old motel’s residents have no backdoor and their front door opens directly into their living area. Because the protestors are so close it feels like they’re peering in on the residents’ private lives.

“Enough is enough. Any kind of protest, you make your statement and you go away,” resident Janice Roberts said. “There’s no respect for anybody but them.”

Hale Harlingten lives in the corner unit, his front door about six metres from where the protestors stand.

“I have a small place. They’re in front of it. The whole world’s looking at me and I just want a little bit of peace and quiet to come out here and sit,” Harlingten said. “They’ve been there long enough now that I think every car in the city has gone by the corner and knows their opinion. The only purpose they can be there for is to cause a disturbance. So we get upset.”

The campaign co-ordinator for 40 Days for Life, Alex Berns, said his group has had previous altercations with residents – Roberts in particular.

“(Roberts) has had several conversations with our members, all of them highly spirited,” Berns said. “Wherever she has been and what makes her the way she is today, we include her in our prayers too.”

OUR VIEW: Time for vigil to move on

Last Thursday, the tension got to a point where a small altercation took place.

As Berns took a walk, which he said he often does to ease back pain, he went around the corner down the Island Highway where he said Roberts approached him.

She said she asked him to leave and stood her ground. They bumped each other – both claim the other person was at fault. Neither was injured.

However, Berns called the police, believing the altercation to be a form of harassment.

RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Max Fossum said it’s unlikely police will recommend charges.

“It’s one word against the other word really,” Fossum said.

Fossum said the protestors have a right to be there unless View Royal says otherwise.

There have been some minor incidents in the past involving the protest, but nothing major, Fossum added.

View Royal chief administrative officer Kim Anema said there is little the town can do to remove the vigil unless they are disrupting traffic or causing a safety hazard. Even with complaints from residents, the protestors have a protected right to protest so long as they stick to the rules.

Anema said he understands the concerns surrounding the vigil and View Royal will continue to monitor the situation.

Berns said his group is there to protest abortions and to talk to people about the dangers of post-abortive trauma and depression. The protestors say they have been subjected to harassment in the past. One morning they arrived at their usual spot to find a pumpkin with a coat hanger stuck in it.

Another morning a coat hangar had been hung from a signpost behind where they stand. Recently they have arrived to find eggs smashed on the ground and ketchup spread around. The residents of the housing complex said they know nothing about those incidents. They plan to send a complaint in writing to View Royal council.

Vancouver Island Women’s Clinic did not wish to comment. The next 40-day vigil starts Sept. 26.


Just Posted

Major expansion coming to Royal Bay Secondary

Province will build space for 600 more students on same site

At the age of 95, local bowler shows no signs of slowing down

Olive Olmsted has bowled for more than 55 years

Colwood wins Victoria Flower Count for a five-peat

The 43rd annual Flower Count had over three billion blossoms counted in total

Royal Bay junior boys bring back lacrosse banner

The Ravens sent three teams to the provincial championships

Langford fundraiser for kidney disease is a success

Maureen Hobbs thinks B.C. Transplant says it best: “Live life. Pass it on.”

Celebrating our transit drivers on their day

March 18 is International Transit Driver Appreciation Day

B.C. VIEWS: Speculation tax, cabin tax or asset tax?

Targeting empty homes seems confused and ineffective

Inspections, training needed to prevent repeat of Fernie ammonia leak across B.C.

Ammonia is inherently dangerous and should be not used in skating and curling rinks, says one expert

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

LETTER: Lowered voting age would engage youth in political process

Saanich high school student supports giving a vote to 16-year-olds

RCMP move to arrest pipeline protesters at entrance to Trans Mountain work site

28 demonstrators began blocking the entrance to Kinder Morgan’s work site at about 10 a.m. Saturday

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Most Read