A community group has taken matters into their own hands and built showers for campers in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park.
They say the city has been too slow to provide sanitation to those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
“They are some wooden posts, some sheet metal, and some off-grid metal propane water heaters. That’s all it is,” said Craig Turney who is the carpenter for the project.
“The city was slow at getting handwashing stations, and they were slow at getting bathroom facilities and they are still stalling at getting showers.”
Through fundraising, they built two, and are looking potentially making a trailer.
But they are not built with the City of Victoria’s permission, and the group says they have been told they would be removed if they placed them in the park.
Victoria city councillor Sarah Potts says she understands the frustration and that the city has opened up a dialogue with the group.
“I understand it doesn’t feel fast enough, it doesn’t feel like it’s meeting the need,” she said.
“I totally understand why the community would respond this way. But the city needs to fill certain requirements around liability and safety.”
Potts says showers like the ones that were at Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue were organized in a partnership between the city and other organizations — which takes time and dedicated resources to set up.
The city is working to find solutions and is coordinating with community groups. Opening existing facilities is one option being considered.
“City staff have been working really hard in the worst that COVID has had to offer, but they are not trained to work with people who are sheltering outdoors, it is not their skillset, and those who are are stretched thin to the max,” Potts said.
Even though the group has been told their showers could be removed if they place them down, they say the risk is worth it to help campers now.