Beacon Hill Park’s image took another hit on Sunday.
Victoria Police Department officers on special assignment duty say they discovered an uncapped hypodermic needle with blood in it that was tied to a heavily used staircase handrail in Beacon Hill Park just before 5 p.m.
The staircase where the needle was placed is located on the western side of the park, near Douglas and Toronto streets. VicPD believe the needle was fashioned to the railing by someone who wanted to injure others.
“I can’t imagine anyone thinking that’s a reasonable way of alerting someone that there’s a needle in the area,” said VicPD Const. Cam MacIntyre, adding. “[It is] very concerning. This was placed on a staircase railing near a heavily used path. We know there are a lot of families that use that park, we know that there are a lot of children that use that park.”
The Victoria Police Department recently committed to having more officers patrol the park following a rise in calls to the area.
Between March 17 and July 10, there was a 35 per cent increase in calls to the park compared to the same time frame last year, according to the department.
The safety issues at Beacon Hill Park have also led Victoria city staff to exercise their right to refuse work after multiple employees say they were threatened at the park last month.
Meanwhile, nearby residents have voiced displeasure for months about the growing homeless encampment at the park, reporting death threats, and sightings of paraphernalia such as crack pipes.
“Every day there’s something else happening in this park that’s dangerous to the citizens, to the city workers even. There’s Footprints Security that rolls along with the garbage trucks for people picking up garbage. It’s a band-aid solution,” said nearby resident Andrew Wierzbicki.
He said it’s gotten to the point where he no longer feels safe bringing his kids to the park.
“The danger is far too high. The risk is not worth the reward,” said Wierzbicki.
While some may be quick to point the finger at the roughly 100 homeless living at the park, camper Shea Smith says pump the breaks.
“No one wants to reflect badly on themselves first of all, or any more negatively on the park than we seem to already,” he said. “This a place where people are sheltering right now during a pandemic. This isn’t a tent city type thing like everybody wants to call it.”
Smith says he thinks the needle could have been placed there by an outsider in an effort to make residents of the park look bad.
“I think this could be someone possibly from the outside that’s taped that on their just to make more negative press for us,” he said.