WATCH: Photos and video taken from inside Goldstream campground Thursday show it in good condition and a parks staff member confirms it’s being kept clean. April Lawrence reports.
Goldstream Provincial Park campground has been closed to the public for more than a week after a group of homeless people moved in, but their time there is coming to an end.
“I expect by the end of that two week period we will have housing or appropriate options for the people that are currently in the tent city and the citizens in my community will be able to access the park again very soon,” said Premier John Horgan at a press conference Wednesday.
The campers will have to move on by Tuesday, October 2 but those who live in the area worry about what kind of mess might be left behind.
“All we have to go on is the limited amount of information we’re being told and the past history of people,” said area resident Reece Hasanen.
A park employee, who asked to remain anonymous, tells CHEK News he is surprised by how clean the park is and that other than the first few days when there were issues with stolen firewood and disturbances in the campground, the homeless campers have been respectful and quiet.
He said having the park closed to the public for two weeks will cost about $32,000 in lost revenues.
While media isn’t allowed in the campground, members of the group called Namegans Nation sent CHEK News photos and video taken Thursday afternoon, which appear to show the campground in good condition.
“We didn’t destroy nothing it’s the same campground they loved and wanted to be at. I don’t understand why it was closed to the public,” said camper Devon Woodford.
But it hasn’t been quiet for West Shore RCMP. In 2017 they received nine calls for service in the Goldstream area over one week in September. In that same week this year they received 25 calls — an increase of 178 per cent.
They say most calls have been for suspicious people, disturbances, property offences and mental health concerns.
“We just have to make sure our bylaw officers and our RCMP are keeping the community safe,” said Langford City Councillor Denise Blackwell.
Pacifica Housing says it has found rental suites for four of the Goldstream campers and BC Housing says a 25-bed shelter at the Native Friendship Centre in Saanich will open Monday, Oct. 1— a day before the campers have to leave the park.
But some of the campers say they aren’t interested in a shelter.
“Personally I’m not going to go back to a shelter, I’ve been in them, you get your stuff stolen, you’re worse off in there than you are out here sadly,” said Woodford.
Some ideas being considered by tent city organizers to move to next include Langford, another provincial campground, back to Saanich, or possibly Oak Bay.