WATCH: Homeowners living next door to Saanich’s tent city are saying they’re feeling less and less safe in their own homes as the camp grows in size. But as Kori Sidaway tells us, those who are staying there also say they’re living in fear.
It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Wesley, who chose to use an alternative name for personal safety reasons, lives near Saanich’s tent city. Saturday night he found a syringe stuck in his car’s wheel.
“So it was just right here, with the sharp end directly into the tire, so if I had moved it could have punctured the tire,” Wesley said as he pointed to his wheel.
Wesley said the syringe was deliberately placed and part of escalating threats he’s been receiving from his new neighbours.
“Someone was just walking by and said if you’re going to keep complaining the complaint department is hanging from the tree and pointed to the noose. That definitely worried us,” said Wesley.
The tent city in Regina Park near Uptown Mall popped up in May and is now home to at least 40 people and 30 tents.
Wesley said he no longer feels comfortable walking in the area.
“When we’re in the home, I feel safe, but definitely from the vehicle to the house you’re constantly watching over your shoulder.”
And he said conflict is growing. Other residents have said they feel unsafe and there is an increased police presence in the area.
Just this Friday, Chrissy Brett, a high profile organizer of the growing tent city was arrested and charged with obstruction and assault with an air horn after police say she pointed it at an ear of a fireman conducting a safety search.
Because of arrests like these, Brett said fear is something both sides of the fence understand.
“Well, considering some of us live in fear every day and fear from ostracized from the rest of society, they understand what living in fear is like. This isn’t something that anyone in the community wants the neighbours to feel,” said Brett.
Ultimately, both sides say they want to find some middle ground.
“Possibly a community policing member a camp remember and maybe a neighbour from the neighbourhood could start doing a block watch,” Brett suggested.
“I think the government has to address why there is homelessness,” said Wesley.
“Give them the tools to provide themselves. It’s the old adage ‘give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach him how to fish, feed him for the rest of his life.'”
The District of Saanich said it’s working on a resolution for the illegal encampment in the park. Until then, both sides say they’re trying to find a way to make things work.