Tensions are running high around a controversial homeless camp that’s chosen Duncan’s most prominent park to set up tents in. Skye Ryan reports.
Drums beat loudly as police moved in to evict campers from Duncan’s most visible park Saturday.
Charles Hoey Park is where a memorial to those killed in the battle of Vimy Ridge is to be held Sunday.
“If we were to start to dismantle the tents will there be an issue?” asks Duncan Bylaw Enforcement Officer Gary Kerr to campers.
“I would stand in front of it and you would have to physically remove me from here,” replies demonstrator Chrissy Brett.
“If they’re planning to bust this up then I’ll be back here I’m more than wiling to go to jail for this one,” says Rob Webber.
Webber, whose son and brother both served in the Canadian Forces, says he was once homeless himself and calls the eviction of the camp to make way for a memorial service to fallen veterans a disgrace.
“I find it horribly disrespectful that they say, no you can’t come here because we’re going to celebrate other things for Vimy Ridge,” says Webber. “These people died for people in this very same position,”
The homeless camp is made up of about a dozen people.
Some are from Victoria’s former tent city, including Chrissy Brett.
“I’m not going to be confrontational but I am not going to make it easy for them,” says Brett. “I will sit in my tent they will have to drag me out.”
There are also people here who have really been living on Duncan’s streets because they couldn’t find any where they could afford to live in this increasingly expensive rental market.
“It would have been my entire cheque so I thought about it and thought well if I get a tent then at least I can get some food you know,” says Aaron Anderberg from inside his tent.
“People don’t want to be here,” adds Duncan Resident Shawna Green. “They don’t want to be on the ground they don’t want to be cold but some people don’t have a place to live some people don’t have family.”
“I’m gonna go down and pull that peg out,” says Gary Kerr to the group of demonstrators, as Brett stands on her tent. “So you’re not going to let me pull that peg out?” asks Kerr. ” No,” she answers. “That’s great, then we’re done,” answers Kerr.
“The last thing we want is any confrontation between the two groups,” Kerr says. “They do have a permit to have the ceremony tomorrow. Chrissy’s group was served notice to vacate by today but obviously they’re not going to vacate so now the city is going to have to take whatever steps they deem necessary. Again, that’s out of my hands.”
The City of Duncan will have to seek an injunction in the courts to remove the campers but that’s unlikely to happen in time for Sunday’s memorial to the battle of Vimy Ridge.