Victoria considering time limit for people camping at parks ‘to allow natural vegetation’

Victoria considering time limit for people camping at parks 'to allow natural vegetation'

WATCH: City of Victoria set to look at proposed changes to bylaws for occupants of parks. It includes a possible time limit for people staying parks. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

About a dozen people will be calling Topaz park home for the next week.

Activist Chrissy Brett is among the group. She says hopes the tents and signs shed light on the housing crisis.

“[There’s] a lot of not ‘in my backyard’ without understanding the situation that people find themselves in,” says Brett.

It comes as the City of Victoria is looking at a proposal to introduce new rules for camping in parks.

Currently, the city’s parks bylaw permits those who are homeless to camp in most parks but shelters and belongings must be packed up by 7 a.m.

New bylaws proposed by city staff would see a six-hour stay limit imposed within a 24-hour-period, while those who are seeking shelter in parks, would be asked to move to another location in the park at the end of a 12-hour sheltering period.

“What we’ve found this past summer is an increasing pressure on our park system,” says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

The city’s mayor says while she respects and supports people’s right to shelter in parks, she says long-term tenting has been hurting vegetation at parks.

“When people wake up in the morning, all we’re asking they move at least 100 metres from the spot that they camped overnight to allow that piece of earth to revive.”

Its part of the five changes to parks bylaw city staff will propose to council Thursday.

Chrissy Brett says asking homeless people to move isn’t fair.

“I just find it really inhumane. I mean no one else has to pack up their entire life when they go to work.”

She says she has been slammed with a $150 ticket every day for the last week because she hasn’t taken down her shelter every morning.

She would like to see the city work with the province to purchase a parking space or an industrial area so damage to vegetation isn’t a concern.

“Rather than asking everyone to move every 12 hours or 24 hours, why not create something that is going to be permanent and supported?”

The fines aren’t slowing her down. The group will be setting up their tents at parks across the capital region for the next six weeks, moving every seven days, to continue spreading their message.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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