It housed hundreds of the city’s homeless population for much of the COVID-19 pandemic, but camping will be banned for two years at Beacon Hill Park after the motion passed a vote by the Committee of the Whole on Thursday.
A ban on camping 24/7 in the city’s parks was reimplemented last month in Victoria, but overnight sheltering was still permitted.
That will change for Beacon Hill Park after the committee voted to add it to a list of city parks where overnight camping isn’t allowed.
Mayor Lisa Helps says the ban was set at two years because that’s the time needed for the park environment to recover from the effects of the campers who lived there.
According to a report written by Helps accompanying the motion, Beacon Hill Park has environmentally sensitive areas — Garry Oak ecosystems — and ongoing sheltering at the park has had a “substantial” impact.
The committee’s vote still needs to be ratified at a council meeting in two weeks before it takes effect.
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, more than 100 individuals began to shelter at the popular park — sparking a petition demanding an end to all-day sheltering.
Today, however, there far fewer homeless people living in the park as the majority of them have been relocated into housing.
When the motion is ratified by council, the ban would begin immediately and last until 2023, at which time there would be a review and possible extension, depending on the condition of Beacon Hill Park.