‘We just want our park back’: More concerns raised over sheltering at Victoria’s Stadacona Park

'We just want our park back': More concerns raised over sheltering at Victoria's Stadacona Park

Neighbours are once again raising concerns about sheltering at Victoria’s Stadacona Park.

They say they’re living in fear and are calling for more action to be taken to save the park and get those living there the support they need.

Near the start of the pandemic, the city permitted 24-hour camping at Stadacona Park. As of May 2021, it was reduced to just 12 hours.

But one neighbour says the tents aren’t coming down when they’re supposed to.

“They tend to stay up and they stay throughout the park and ultimately what’s happening is that the park is no longer available for the community to use,” says the neighbour, who wishes to stay anonymous due to safety concerns.

On Wednesday, a man was allegedly attacked by three park residents, leaving him with a black eye and a cut on his cheek.

“There’s fear and intimidation and where many people used to use the park, kids in the playground, seniors, families, reunions, none of that happens anymore because of fear,” adds the neighbor. “Parks are not part of the solution for homelessness, and I want to quote former BC Housing Minister David Eby in March 2021, parks are for recreation, not camping.”

The group has launched an online petition, hoping to catch the attention of governments. So far, they’ve gathered over 800 signatures.

“We want our park back, that’s the message,” says the resident.

But it’s a complex issue, according to elected officials, and it’s been a hot topic at the Union of BC Municipalities convention this week.

“The issue goes beyond policing and courts. It goes to issues of homelessness, mental health and addictions,” says Nathan Cullen, the MLA for Stikine.

It’s an issue not just seen in Stadacona Park, but up and down the Island and across the entire province. Homelessness and addiction has plagued communities all over and that is evident to decision makers.

“We’re working with policing and mental health experts who are about to deliver a report to us as a province about solutions, ideas, creative and otherwise, and that is coming incredibly soon,” adds Cullen.

Locally at Stadacona Park, residents hope those solutions come sooner, rather than later, so they can take back the park they so much enjoy.

Hannah LepineHannah Lepine

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