WATCH: As the Goldstream Provincial Park campers are given a reprieve, politicians pointed fingers at each other for creating the homeless camping mess. As Mary Griffin reports, finding homes for them is not an easy solution.
Premier John Horgan said homeless campers are entitled to be at Goldstream Provincial Park but they are not entitled to abuse that right.
“I’ve heard reports from campers who are leaving because they don’t feel that they are safe. I’ve heard from citizens in the constituency, it is my constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca, that they feel that their liberty is at risk,” Horgan said.
Horgan was responding to the confusion that came after the campers, who had been at the two former tent cities in Saanich, arrived at the park on Tuesday evening.
Since then, Langford’s mayor, Stewart Young, claims a rash of criminal activity related to the homeless campers since their arrival.
“There is a perception out there that tent cities are drugs, crime, and it’s going to happen in your community. And guess what? In 24 hours it did,” Young said.
“So, they have a right to be concerned. It’s unsafe in our community, and that area right now. I’ve told people, do not go to Goldstream park.”
Even if they wanted to, the remaining campers can’t go to any shelters in the area as they are all fall.
While the province is spending more than a billion dollars on affordable housing, Horgan said it first needs land from municipalities.
“We have a modular home program that had 2,000 modular homes available to municipalities. All they had to do was provide us with the land,” Horgan said.” So far, in the Capital Regional District only one municipality took us up on that, the City of Victoria. I understand Saanich is looking at that more closely today.”
And Saanich announced it is providing land for modular housing on this property north of the municipality’s fire hall on Vernon Avenue. But while he wants them gone, Langford’s mayor won’t help with housing the homeless.
“If I went and said I’m going to house the people from tent city in temporary housing in Langford, I wouldn’t be able to find a spot because the public is not supportive. And they are very vocal in Langford,” Young said.