Homeless man’s death sparks community outpour


WATCH: The death of a homeless man known as “Mayor Dave” sparks huge reaction from the community. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

Earlier this week, Saanich police found the body of a homeless man found in Gorge Park. 

Family and friends have now identified him as Dave Armitage, also known in the area as ‘Mayor Dave’. 

Flowers and messages flood a bench in front of the Shoppers Drug Mart at the Gorge and Tillicum shopping plaza, where he would spend most of days. 

“Last night I think I cried myself to sleep because he’s touched so many hearts in the neighbourhood,” says Bev King who works in the plaza.

A memorial was set up on the bench to remember the man who was known for his kindness. 

“I was coming down for a coffee, I said common Dave I’ll buy you a coffee, and on that day he said “no, I’m buying you a coffee”. So he bought me a coffee that day. He appreciated all the kindness people showed and he’d try to pay it back once in a while. It was a charming thing about him,” says Karl Egaer who works in a plaza office. 

In an email, his nephew Steve M. says:

“Many of us would check in to see if he needed anything and to see how he was doing. He always declined our offers to get him assistance medically and housing-wise. He was happy to be independent and free,” adding, “We already miss him and have shed many tears over him in life and his passing.”

His nephew also says his family feels the health care system failed him, after fruitless hospital visits : “None of us were equipped or able to take in Dave as a fully dependent person with mental health issues that would flare up and present a danger to us.  We all, including Dave, were sorry that this was the case.  If he had been properly diagnosed in the initial visit and treated, he might have taken a different path.  It was a crucial mistake on the part of our health care system.” 

Local staff are collecting donations to build a more permanent memorial, either as a plaque on the bench or in Gorge Park.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!