Beacon Hill Park campsite: Victoria council considers 2-year ban on overnight tents
VANCOUVER – At its Committee of the Whole Thursday, Victoria City Council will debate a proposal to ban overnight camping at Beacon Hill Park until 2023.
A motion brought forward by Mayor Lisa Helps and Councilors Marianne Alto and Charlayne Thornton-Joe calls for a temporary ban to allow the “rehabilitation” of the park, which has sheltered people homeless throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic, the city council voted to allow the installation of tents in city parks 24 hours a day, with the aim of allowing homeless people to “take shelter in place” and reduce their costs. risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Over time, the Beacon Hill Park encampment has become a hotspot for crime and calls for law enforcement, according to the town’s police chief and officers’ union.
Last summer, thousands of Victoria residents signed a petition calling for an end to 24-hour camping at Beacon Hill Park, but the policy remained in effect until May 1 of this year.
Today, only a handful of tents remain in the park during the day, under an exception to the regulation that allows residents waiting for an indoor shelter from BC Housing to leave their tents in place until. that they are available.
Overnight camping is still permitted in Beacon Hill Park, but tents must not be erected before 7:00 p.m. and must be taken down by 7:00 a.m. the next morning.
the motion to discuss Thursday would even ban overnight camping in the park for a period of two years.
“Beacon Hill Park is not a campground,” reads a report filed alongside the petition. “Long before the pandemic, there were misleading posts on TripAdvisor and other places, advertising Beacon Hill Park as a good place for travelers to camp. In addition to the necessary remediation work that needs to be done, the closure of Beacon Hill Park to all shelters for a period of two years is an opportunity to clearly reset this perception among travelers and tourists. “
The motion calls for a review of the proposed ban in 2023 to determine whether it should be extended.
He also notes that the city is “at an important time” in its efforts to bring all those currently living outside “on the path to permanent housing with the care and support they need to be successful.”
Between April 1 and May 15, 226 people who lived in Victoria’s parks moved inside, according to the report. This is in addition to the roughly 400 people who were offered indoor housing at the start of the pandemic, about 85% of whom are still housed, the report said.
“This report also begins to envision a homeless city and to rethink the relationship between homelessness and park accommodation,” the motion reads. “Parks have been the go-to place to stay for people who become homeless, but that’s not their goal. Municipal parks are important public green spaces that are essential to the health and well-being of the urban community. managed for the use of all and for the long term. ”