Mayor Stew Young told concerned residents that he has requested meetings with all relevant provincial ministers to deal with the homeless camp that has moved into the campground at Goldstream Provincial Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

West Shore residents hold forum to voice frustration with Goldstream Park homeless camp

Some 200 residents fill local pub pointing fingers, claiming crime on the rise, safety at risk

Some 200 residents, many visibly angry and emotional, packed a West Shore pub Sunday to urge provincial officials including their local MLA, Premier John Horgan, to move the homeless camp in Goldstream Provincial Park to a different location.

The event was advertised as a forum for residents to voice their concerns, and was not without its tensions.

“Get this group out of here, so we can have our park back,” said one resident Mark, who declined to provide his last name.

An estimated 40 homeless campers, who arrived from Saanich Tuesday, are living in the campground at Goldstream Park after police had ordered them out of Regina Park, as well as a camp near the corner of Ravine Way and Carey Road.

Their presence has sparked a negative reaction from residents and local officials including Langford Mayor Stew Young, who attended Sunday’s gathering at Ma Miller’s Pub.

Young asked attendees to avoid generalizations about the homeless residents. “Not everybody in the camp is doing drugs,” he said. “Not everybody is criminal.”

He also tempered expectations, noting among other points that the provincial government currently lacks sufficient housing, but made clear that he feels the responsibility to house people lies with the provincial government, not with the municipality.

“It is up to the provincial government to help the residents with supportive services around the clock,” he said.

Young also expressed frustration with the province’s response to the issue, saying he has asked for appointments in the coming days with all ministers involved.

RELATED: Victoria’s roving tent city moves to Goldstream Park

Heidi Hartman, a regional director with BC Housing, told the crowd that additional support services were on their way. However, BC Housing cannot force people to accept housing, unless an extreme cold weather event is unfolding, she added.

Hartman, nor two representatives from Horgan’s office, could answer some of the key questions on the minds of concerned residents, namely how long the camp would remain at Goldstream Park.

As speaker after speaker took the floor, their comments made it clear the community wants the camp as gone as quickly as possible, citing concerns about increased crime.

RELATED: Neighbours fear impact of tent city residents on Goldstream Provincial Park

Gordon, who did not give his last name, said he (like other residents) is not against the homeless, but the behaviour that often follows them. He added that he and his neighbours have started late night patrols to ensure the safety of the nearby neighbourhood.

Others raised concern about the impact that the residents will have on the provincial park.

“As far as I am concerned, the integrity of this park has been compromised,” Mark said.

One speaker referred to the residents as “slime,” a comment that earned her some rebuke, but also quiet toleration. One man sitting away from the stage referred to the camp residents as “professional protesters.”

RELATED: Langford Mayor upset with province over homeless camp

But, residents also heard from Morgan van Humbeck, a camp resident, who told them the campers of Namegans Nation are working hard to maintain the integrity of the park.

Van Humbeck also agreed that more must be done to deal with homelessness at the root level.

As for specific recommendations, residents appeared to be in agreement that the camp should move to a nearby park.

Camp leader Chrissy Brett said everyone is free to voice their opinion, adding that camp residents would welcome the opportunity to engage with residents in a non-alcoholic environment.

She also appeared open to the idea of moving, if the province would provide the necessary supportive services, especially for those with mobility challenges.

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Speeding Alaska driver tells VicPD police chief he knows how drive in the snow

Chief Const. Del Manak saw the speeder while driving on Highway 17

Adverse weather cancelled more than 900 ferry sailings in 2012

Less than three weeks into January, BC Ferries has cancelled more than 230 sailings

Hazardous black ice coats Greater Victoria streets

Drivers, cyclists, pedestrians warned to be cautious

Saanich councillor feels new Walmart at Hillside a step in the wrong direction

‘We’ll all fail our climate goals if we don’t make radical changes to land use,’ says the councillor

Victoria byelection scheduled for April 4

The byelection will replace former Coun. Laurel Collins

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

POLL: Has the recent snow had an impact on your daily life?

Old Man Winter had Greater Victoria in his icy grip this week.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Sub-zero B.C. weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

Most Read