A heavy police presence was station at Goldstream Provincial Park ahead of the 11 a.m. eviction deadline. (Camp Namegans Nation Facebook)

Tent city campers now allowed to stay in B.C. provincial park

Contrary to earlier reports, Ministry of Environment says there is no deadline for campers to leave Greater Victoria camp site

Members of Namegans Nation, the roving tent city facing eviction from Greater Victoria’s Goldstream Provincial Park Thursday morning have been told they can stay, according to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

Confusion around campers being given a 24-hour notice to vacate was “unfortunately stated by a BC Parks staffer,” said David Karn, media relations for the ministry.

“The province has no deadline in place for the homeless campers out at Goldstream,” Karn added.

While the campground will remain open to the public for day use, it will be closed to overnight guests, Karn said. That decision was made following concerns expressed by local RCMP to ensure public safety. People with reservations will get a refund.

“The park act allows for a closure,” Karn said, though the ministry is not currently aware of any disturbances in the campground over the past 24 hours.

Outreach teams are there working with them on supports including shelter and housing, Karn added.

READ MORE: Saanich offers land for housing for the homeless

According to Const. Matt Baker of the West Shore RCMP, there have already been reports of criminal activity and drug use in the area over the past two days.

“We’ve got reports of recovered stolen vehicles, there have been reports of drug use at the park,” Baker said. “There’s also been recovery of an individual that had a warrant as well.”

According to Langford Mayor Stew Young, his office has received more than 100 emails and phone calls from concerned residents.

“In 24 hours, we’ve had more police incidents in that area than we’ve had all year,” Young said. “This is a problem and the public has a reason to be concerned … Drugs and open drug use is not going to be allowed, I don’t care where you are, that is the law and the RCMP will do their job. We’re not doing anything different than we normally would.”

Young said Langford has spent at least $15,000 a day to manage the camping at Goldstream Park since Camp Namegans Nation moved in Sept. 18.

READ MORE: Langford mayor upset with province over homeless camp

Those affiliated with Camp Namegans held a protest rally at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, ahead of the directive to evict all campers from the park at 11 a.m.

Young asked the public not to go to the campground.

“Stay away from there, let the police do their job,” Young said, adding the city does not have the resources to manage the situation. “As the mayor, I’m telling the public do not go to Goldstream Park.”

READ MORE: Police block entrance to Goldstream Park, tent city campers forced to leave

He called for the provincial government to create a rapid response team on the ground and co-ordinate the ministries of housing and health.

The resources, Young said, should take the strain off the municipalities.

In a post on the group’s Facebook page, Camp Namegans said, “the BC NDP’s continued use of police force to break the spirit of Namegans Nation sends a clear message: Indigenous and working class people who politicize their survival and protest the gross negligence of all levels of government in addressing the deepening crisis of homelessness will be banished to physical and social invisibility.”

Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing provided a statement to Black Press that noted Goldstream Park was not an appropriate place to establish a tent city, and urged those staying at Goldstream to work with staff to identify better housing solutions.

She stated that provincial resources were being deployed to work with campers in the coming days to assess and provide supports for longer-term solutions, and referenced the early opening of a 25-space shelter at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.

The District of Saanich also announced they’re offering land near the Municipal Hall to build modular supportive housing for those experiencing, or at risk of homelessness.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan receives $20,000 grant

The organization announced the grant from Revera on Friday

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

City of Kelowna urges people to donate to non-profits instead of directly to homeless

The new homeless camp on Recreation Avenue isn’t equipped to handle donations

UBCO daycare services slated for major improvements

More families will have access to high-quality child care services at UBCO

CBC Radio tops the ranking again in Kelowna

CBC had largest market share for third year in a row say rating company Numeris

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Doors open to Vernon’s first refill store

Vernon’s Refill Store may be answer to plastics problem

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Crown delves into Sagmoen’s history with North Okanagan sex workers

Decision on validity of police search warrant will be made on Monday, Dec. 9

Okanagan Similkameen could have a sister city in the south of France

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen considering agreement with wine region in southern France

Summerland businesses participate in Sip N’ Shop

Downtown event on Dec. 14 will feature local beverages

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Noxious odour detected at Summerland Health Centre

Staff felt nauseous following incident on morning of Dec. 5

Most Read