The Town of View Royal is amending its parks and public places bylaw to prohibit camping in 41 of the town’s parks, leaving just two where restricted camping will be allowed.
Camping will be allowed only between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. – chosen to allow tents to be set up while it is still light out but encourage them to be removed before parks become busy – at View Royal Park and Portage Inlet Linear Park under the amended bylaw, which passed first, second and third readings but has yet to be adopted by council.
Tents or other temporary shelters will also be prohibited anywhere within 100 metres of a playground, tennis court, sports field or dug out; a footpath or road within a park; washrooms, picnic shelters, or gazebos; a horticultural display or community garden; a beach or an environmentally sensitive area.
According to a staff report presented to council at a July 19 meeting, the bylaw amendments come amid a rise in park bylaw complaints. In 2019, 39 complaints were received by the town, compared to 71 in 2020, and 76 in 2021.
The amendments were recommended by town staff as the existing bylaw does not provide bylaw officers the tools to regulate camping by unhoused people within the town. The changes would bring View Royal in line with other Greater Victoria municipalities that have enacted camping in parks rules, the report stated.
Mayor David Screech said the bylaw amendment is intended to comply with the precedent set when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional blanket bans on unhoused people camping on public property.
“It was important for us to bring in a bylaw that complies with the courts while still protecting our parks for everyone’s enjoyment,” he said.
Bylaw officer Jim Henly told council during the meeting, the two parks in which camping will be permitted were chosen due to their accessibility to amenities.