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Posts Tagged "Park"

30Sep

Call for new shelter to house Oppenheimer Park tent city holdouts

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https://vancouversun.com/


Gary Humchitt at Oppenheimer park in Vancouver, BC Wednesday, September 25, 2019. Nearly a hundred tents dot the landscape at the park which has pitted various levels of local government and agencies against each other as to how best handle the homeless encampment.


Jason Payne / PNG

Calls will be made to Vancouver city council on Tuesday to create a new shelter, or rent a hotel, to house about 60 people who remain at the Oppenheimer Park tent city.

The first of two motions to council will be presented by COPE councillor and longtime anti-poverty advocate Jean Swanson.

Swanson’s motion is called Emergency Action to Support Vancouver’s Homeless People, Including Those in Oppenheimer Park and states that there are no more B.C. Housing units available to remaining campers.

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The Oppenheimer Park camp in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside began in Oct. 2018 with a few tents and grew to 200 tents in early Aug. 2019.


August 18, 2019. The Oppenheimer Park tent city at its peak.

NICK PROCAYLO /

PNG

On Aug. 19, Vancouver park board manager Malcolm Bromley ordered all tents/structures be removed within two days. At the same time, B.C. Housing made available to campers 123 B.C. Housing units, 11 City of Vancouver units and stated there were 60 shelter spaces available (some tent city residents have told Postmedia News that they would rather be in a tent than at a shelter.) A Supreme Court of B.C. injunction is required to remove campers by force, and as there was no injunction the remaining campers and their tents stayed in the park.

Last Thursday, during a presentation to Vancouver parks board by City of Vancouver deputy city manager Paul Mochrie, he stated that 130 campers accepted the housing offers, over half of whom were First Nations, and 34 per cent women.


August 20, 2019. Some residents are packing up to leave Oppenheimer park in Vancouver, BC, August 20, 2019.

Arlen Redekop /

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Mochrie said that there were currently 120 tents on the site — between Powell Street to the north and East Cordova in the south, with Dunlevy Avenue on the west and Jackson Avenue to the east — with about 55 people still staying in the park who were in contact with city outreach workers. He said 40 were male, 14 female and one trans and noted “a small number of people have declined to identify themselves or are not interested in Outreach’s assistance.”

In her motion, Swanson calls for city staff and agencies to meet with residents “about an accessible alternative site that ensures health and safety, access to services and supports, and is acceptable and appropriate for people currently living in Oppenheimer Park. Swanson states the site needs a community kitchen, electricity, storage, toilets with running water and there be a warming tent in Oppenheimer Park.

She also calls for an emergency homelessness task force to be formed to look at buying or leasing one of more hotels for Oppenheimer Park residents.

The second motion is being put forward by Green councillor Michael Wiebe and NPA councillor Lisa Dominato and is titled A Collaborative and New Approach to Oppenheimer Park and Other Public Spaces.

It starts by stating “Vancouver is experiencing unprecedented housing and mental health and addiction issues,” and that “there are a significant number of persons living on the city’s streets, or out of their cars, due to the shortage of appropriately affordable housing who simply require access to shower and washroom facilities to support them on their path to permanent housing or employment.”

At last week’s park board meeting, commissioners heard that the number of people sleeping on the streets in Vancouver had risen almost 300 per cent since 2011 — to 614 in 2019.

In the motion, Wiebe and Dominato ask that Mayor Kennedy Stewart — who in early September unsuccessfully asked that parks board hand over the Oppenheimer Park file to the city — send a letter to parks board asking that the “current impasse” at the park be “resolved swiftly” for all concerned. They also want council to develop a decampment plan with the goal of “restoring the park for broad public use.”

The pair are also calling for council to direct staff to apply for provincial government funding “for the establishment of a low-barrier shelter in the city that can suitably address the specific needs of those currently encamped in Oppenheimer Park.”

The majority of councillors and mayor need to vote in favour of a motion to be passed, and often the motion is amended during the council meeting.

Vancouver’s council is comprised of an independent mayor, five from the Non-Partisan Association, three from the Green party and one from COPE.

The Vancouver park board has the power to apply for an injunction to end the tent city, but are not prepared to do that at this point. In 2014 the park board did use an injunction to end another homeless camp in Oppenheimer Park.


Oct. 16, 2014. A woman sorts through her belongings as tents come down and police and city workers clean up Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver on October 16, 2014.

PNG

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18Jul

‘Broke-back jockey’ recovering after scary crash in Hastings Park race

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Jockey Jeffrey Burningham is a popular, and unlucky, figure around Hastings Racecourse


Michael Bye Photo / PNG

Jockey Jeffrey Burningham barely had time to celebrate his 47th birthday before he was thrown from a horse at Hastings Racecourse last Sunday and rushed to Vancouver General Hospital with, among other injuries, a broken back.

The father of two, whose birthday was July 11, had successful surgery late Tuesday according to his wife, Lacie.

“The prognosis is really good,” she said. “He’s got his cellphone, he’s texting and talking to people.”

Burningham’s mount Proud Cause clipped the heels of the horse in front heading into the final turn and the jockey was thrown and run over. He lay motionless before ambulance attendants reached him.

No horses were injured, but the jockey suffered a broken L3 vertebra, broken shoulder blade, broken ribs and a bruised lung.


Jockey Jeffrey Burningham is a popular, and unlucky, figure around Hastings Racecourse.

Michael Bye Photo /

PNG

“He’s very popular,” Hastings Racecourse spokesman Greg Douglas said of Burningham. “It’s amazing he’s still alive. He’s been banged up more than any jockey I’ve ever heard of.”

A couple of years after a serious riding accident in 2014, Burningham told The Vancouver Sun he’d “almost died” after suffering a collapsed lung, five broken ribs and a severe concussion.

“The doctors told me I’d never ride again,” he said.

But that didn’t stop him any more than a broken L2 vertebra did after a tree in the family’s yard fell on him in 2008.

“He recovered in about six months and was riding again in a year,” Lacie Burningham said.

A one-time trainer and now assistant to race secretary Nichelle Milner at Hastings, she witnessed Sunday’s accident.

“I don’t consider it bad luck; he’s alive,” she said. “Any injury where they don’t bury you six feet under, you’re pretty lucky.”

The couple, who have a 20-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, met 22 years ago at a Cloverdale Rodeo dance and she knew exactly what the risks were when they married six months later.

“People ask what it’s like to be married to a rider. I say it’s like being married to a police officer or firefighter. They go on call and there’s a risk to it, and it’s the same being married to a rider; there’s a risk to it.

“I knew that when we got married and I still signed up for it.”

Such serious injuries as Burningham’s are rare at Hastings, Douglas said, but when they occur it affects the small and tight community at the track.

“It’s always there, the fear. It’s always in the back of your mind when you have a 120-pound jockey on the back of a 1,200-pound animal.”


Jockey Jeffrey Burningham (left) is a popular, and unlucky, figure around Hastings Racecourse

Michael Bye Photo /

PNG

Every track in Canada contributes money to the jockeys’ guild for a fund to help cover injuries, which is paid out depending on the number of mounts a jockey has in a year.

One of the roles of the Jockeys’ Benefit Association of Canada, which has about 150 members, is to negotiate disability insurance, career-ending insurance and life insurance.

“Due to the danger inherent to the occupation, a jockey would be unable to obtain such insurance as an individual, and would not be able to survive at a racetrack without it,” the association’s website says.

“When a jockey needs to make an insurance claim, the association assists the jockey with the necessary forms, reviews the claim and ensures proper response from the insurance company.”

Otherwise, as a B.C. resident Burningham is entitled to B.C. medical coverage, but as an independent contractor is not eligible for WorkSafeBC.

Horsemen (and women) at Hastings are setting up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses for Burningham that are not otherwise covered.

Burningham will in all likelihood take the advice he gives other riders who have suffered severe injury, Lacie Burningham said: Get back on that horse.

“That’s his philosophy. Racing is pretty much his life.

“Horses make him happy. They’ve all got different personalities and he loves figuring them out, which is why I’ve never asked him to quit.”

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18Apr

Vancouver Island park damaged in December storm may reopen in May

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Damage seen at Little Qualicum Falls park in February. It’s the lone provincial park still closed in the aftermath of powerful winter storms.


CHEK NEWS

Despite the damage caused in forested areas by December’s powerful windstorm, Little Qualicum Falls is the lone provincial park still closed in the aftermath.

The goal is to have at least a portion of the 440-hectare park opened for the May long weekend.

“However, because safety is our top priority, this cannot be guaranteed while we are still in the midst of assessment and cleanup,” B.C. Parks said in a statement.

The park is popular with families and features waterfalls, a rocky gorge, ands walking trails. B.C. Parks said the “unprecedented blowdown storm” badly damaged the park, home to a 96-site campground — requiring a lot of time and money to assess the damage and work toward a reopening.

“As the recovery work is still underway, we cannot yet know the final costs,” B.C. Parks said. “We are fortunate that there was little capital infrastructure damage. However, the sheer number of fallen and damaged trees has created an unsafe environment.

“We currently have a contractor removing the downed trees from the campgrounds and day-use area, and once this work is completed, we will be able to undertake the repairs of trails, roads, campsites, safety fencing and washroom facilities.”

Heavy machinery is being used.

Meanwhile, five recreation sites in the Campbell Lake area, west of Campbell River, that are currently free have been upgraded to provide better camping facilities. That means a $15 a night fee will come into effect May 15.

The five sites are Dogwood Bay, Loon Bay, Apple Point, Brewster Camp and Gray Lake in the Sayward Forest. The sites will be maintained more often and be regularly visited by a host.

The Brewster Lake, Campbell Lake and Orchard Meadow sites north of Campbell Lake are already fee-for-service locations.

The changes follow a demand for more certainty about campsite availability, but a large number of free sites will continue to be offered in the vicinity.

To book a provincial campsite, visit the Discover Camping website at discovercamping.ca.

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25Mar

Vancouver council approves supports for homeless campers in city Park

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man stands by his tent as Vancouver Police and Fire crews check for safety violations at the homeless camp in Oppenheimer Park.


NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

Vancouver’s council and park board have directed staff to provide support for dozens of campers living in Oppenheimer Park, but its not clear when that will happen.

The move comes as a new B.C. Coroners Service report has shown an alarming uptick of deaths of homeless people in the province, particularly in Vancouver.

Council earlier this month approved a motion directing city and park board staff to work together to provide 24-hour washroom access, storage facilities and a temporary warming station in or near Oppenheimer Park. The Downtown Eastside park has had, by some estimates, between 80 and 100 homeless people bedding down in tents each night in recent months, including through last month’s cold and snowy weather.

The council motion was introduced by COPE Coun. Jean Swanson, who says that in her four decades of anti-poverty work in the Downtown Eastside, she has never seen as many campers living in the park in snowy conditions as this year.

“For heaven’s sake, we have all those people living there, and they have no place to pee at night,” Swanson said Monday. “That is a public health nightmare.”

The city council motion, approved March 14, followed a similar motion approved on March 11 by the Vancouver park board, directing park board and city staff to work together to provide supports in Oppenheimer Park.

Those additional supports were not yet in place as of Monday, the City of Vancouver wrote in an emailed statement Monday, and “city staff are still determining the timeline and next steps for implementing the direction from the council motion.”

The original language of Swanson’s motion, which she tried to introduce last month, directed city staff to work with B.C. Housing “to rent a hotel or motel to house the Oppenheimer Park patrons.” But other councillors amended the motion this month to replace the words “rent a hotel or motel” with “continue to explore ways to fund temporary and/or permanent accommodations, with appropriate support services.”

Over the years, groups of varying sizes have camped in Oppenheimer Park, including a tent city that grew to as many as 200 tents in the fall of 2014. But the number of campers there this winter was thought to be a record high for the time of year, said Fiona York, a coordinator with the Carnegie Community Action Project, which supported Swanson’s motion.


Even during the cold spell last month, there were plenty of people living n tents in Oppenheimer Park.

NICK PROCAYLO /

PNG

York said Monday she had counted 42 tents in the park over this past weekend, many of which could be shared by two or three campers.

Last week, the Coroners Service released a report showing that in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics were available, the province had 175 deaths of homeless people, a 140 per cent increase over 2015. The city of Vancouver had a 250 per cent increase in deaths of homeless people in that period.

In 2016, 53 per cent of deaths of homeless people resulted from unintentional drug and/or alcohol poisoning, an increase over previous years. B.C.’s chief health officer declared a public health emergency in April 2016 over the surging number of drug overdoses, mostly linked to fentanyl.

Since 2017, Vancouver’s modular housing program has provided homes for 606 people who had been facing homelessness, using funding from the provincial government.

Many activists, including Swanson, have said the modular housing is a welcome addition, but the need far outstrips the supply.

The most recent Metro Vancouver homeless count found 3,605 people homeless in the region, up 30 per cent from the previous count in 2014. The City of Vancouver’s own count last year found 2,181 homeless residents in the city proper.

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3Jan

Trampoline park apologizes for denying entry to B.C. boy’s service dog

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A Langley, B.C. trampoline park is apologizing to a local family after refusing entry to a boy’s service dog.

Danica Dutt said she took her brother, Kai Chand, to Extreme Air Park Wednesday. The 11-year-old has autism, and has a registered, professionally trained service dog named Rosie who came along.

Rosie, who Kai describes as his best friend, has tags, permits and paperwork in her vest, and Danica told CTV News she and Kai had photos of their service ID cards on them.

But before Kai could even get to the trampolines, a staff member told them the dog would have to leave as she was not needed, Danica said.

She said she was told the facility only allowed dogs with a “purpose,” such as seeing-eye dogs, are allowed in the facility.

“I explained to her, ‘Oh no, the dog’s going to sit with me in the waiting area,’ and she says, ‘No, your dog’s not allowed,'” Danica said in an interview Thursday.

She told CTV staff didn’t look at their paperwork or IDs, and when she tried to get a refund, staff refused. Instead, she said, they offered a credit so Kai and Danica could return without Rosie.

“But what good is a credit when Kai’s service dog is denied access because she’s not ‘needed?'” Danica wrote in a Facebook post which has been shared nearly 3,000 times. 

Her brother, who did not understand what was happening, then began to cry, Danica said.

She told CTV he was so excited he even begged her to buy him a T-shirt with the park’s logo on it. The one-hour visit was supposed to be his reward for “being really good that day,” she said.

In the end, his mother came and brought the dog home so Kai’s day wasn’t ruined, but Danica said she felt the situation was not handled professionally.

“The fact that they said Kai’s dog wasn’t needed broke my heart because they don’t get to decide who needs a service dog and who doesn’t,” she said.

She explained that the dog’s role is to help keep him calm.

“When he gets overstiumlated he self-hurts and he screams and cries, and having this dog there can just give him a moment to step back and have some relief,” she said.

“I just want Kai to be treated as an equal. That’s all I want. And I want people to know that his service dog is there to help him.”

Kai’s mother, Tara Allen, ended up recording part of her interaction with an employee.

“It was just kind of mindblowing that they turn them away and wouldn’t refund their money,” she said.

She told CTV she’d called and asked to speak to the manager, but staff wouldn’t provide contact information.

“I think they just need to educate themselves on kids with special needs or service dogs,” Tara said.

William Thornton, CEO of BC and Alberta Guide Dogs, said the organization will be following up with the company about their policy. Rosie was trained by BC and Alberta Guide Dogs, one of the only accredited schools in the province.

“Wherever the public has access or is paying to go in is a public domain by definition and these dogs are allowed to enter that building,” he explained.

“I think the public are still playing a little bit of catch-up, that there are other types of dogs and the need is not as obvious to a person that has a hidden disability.”

B.C.’s Guide Dog and Service Dog Act makes it an offense to deny a certified dog and handler team access or accomodation, and those convicted could be fined up to $3,000. More information about the act is available on the province’s website

In an email, Extreme Air Park told CTV services dogs are welcome, and staff do their best to accommodate all customers’ needs. In the statement, staff said that the issue arose during a conversation about the dog going into the trampoline area.

They said they’d reached out to Danica but had not heard back.

Kai’s sister confirmed that she did receive an apology over social media, as well as an offer for free access for a year. She showed CTV a screen grab of a message from Instagram sent by an account called “extremeairparkscanada” which read in part, “The person that our staff talked to on the phone regarding your service dog was misinformed.”

The sender, who appeared to be one of the owners of the park, said he was sorry and that he knew the year jump pass wouldn’t make up for their experience, but that he wanted to provide a positive experience in the future for all, including Rosie.

“I know how important animals are and how much of a difference they can make in people’s lives,” the message read.

Despite the offer, the family doesn’t think they’ll return.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Maria Weisgarber


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20Nov

Vancouver Park Board approves $35K for trans programs in community centres

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In their first committee meeting since the municipal election, Vancouver Park Board commissioners voted unanimously to approve $35,000 in funding for new trans and gender diverse programs in the city’s community centres.

The funding will help the Queer Arts Festival develop arts workshops, staff training and appoint a representative to advise staff on implementing inclusive programming.

The board’s decision came the night before the transgender community marks its International Day of Remembrance on Tuesday. 

SD Holman, Queer Arts Festival artistic director, says the funding will be used to make community centres more welcoming for transgender people.

“For gender non-conforming people, gender diverse folks, going into parks and pools and change rooms is very dangerous, can be humiliating and really really very difficult,” Holman said.

One of the festival’s initiatives proposes to play videos created by trans artists in the common areas of community centres.

“We do everything at the Roundhouse [Community Centre] in the downtown,” said Holman. “Being able to get gender diverse, two spirit and trans art and videos that are going to be played much further out in Vancouver where you wouldn’t necessarily see that is going to be a very important piece of art.”

The Park Board’s trans, gender diverse and two-spirit inclusion (TGD2S) advisory committee was created in 2014 to increase accessibility to parks and community centres for trans people.

Since then, the board has appointed a steering committee to advise on TGD2S specific programming and in 2016 hired two TGD2S facilitators to train staff.

In 2018, new park board pilot programs have included a TGD2S weight room at the Britannia fitness centre, a teen Pride pool party at the Templeton Park Pool and queer and trans youth drop-ins at the West End Community Centre.

Commissioner John Irwin hopes the funding will continue to support trans and queer young people who are at higher risk of substance abuse and suicide.

“Hopefully, it’ll add to the empathy and support in the wider community,” Irwin said.


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2Oct

Park board to test out liquor sales at two Vancouver beaches

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The Vancouver park board decided Monday to allow alcohol sales at two Vancouver beach concessions as part of a two-year pilot project.


NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

Want a cold beer on a Vancouver beach in the summer sunshine?

You can next year, but only at roped-off areas at two Vancouver beach concessions.

On Monday, the Vancouver park board approved a concession strategy which includes a two-year pilot to allow liquor sales at the English Bay and Kitsilano Beach concessions from May to September. 

“This is the first step,” said commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung.

It’s a bold step because it’s the first for the park board but “not that bold because it’s already happening,” she added, referring to people drinking alcohol on the sly in parks and beaches, despite public consumption carrying a $230 fine.

The park system needs to evolve with the rise of condo-dwellers who use parks as their backyards, said Kirby-Yung. “We need to give people the ability to enjoy their city.”

The two-location pilot will allow the park board to assess the feasibility of offering booze at other concessions in the next three to five years.

Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon expressed trepidation over the accessibility of liquor in public spaces, “especially at beaches (with) hot sun and alcohol.” But, he said, “it’s certainly worth a trial to see how it would go.”

There has been a growing chorus of calls from the public and politicians to loosen liquor regulations in public spaces and fix Vancouver’s reputation as a “no fun city.”

A survey found that 79 per cent of respondents were in favour of the sale of alcohol beverages at concessions, according to a park board report on its concession strategy. Sixteen per cent disagreed.

Park board general manager Malcolm Bromley said the issue is “polarizing” and the two-year trial duration is to make sure the park board gets it right. “We are in it for the long run,” he said.

The locations were chosen because the concessions already have restaurant operators — Cactus Restaurants Ltd. at English Bay and The Boathouse at Kitsilano Beach — best-suited to get the program up and running, said staff.

The pilot will be conducted beer-garden style. A section of beach at English Bay adjacent to the public walkway would be roped off, while a temporary small patio would be created outside the existing concession at Kitsilano Beach.

Some commissioners expressed concern that creating cordoned-off areas for alcohol-drinkers would encroach on public space.

Park board staff estimated liquor sales could boost sales by 30 to 50 per cent.

The proposal for the pilot was part of a broader concession strategy approved by the park board Monday.

The park board has 13 concession sites which are contracted to third-party operators who get paid a percentage of sales. In recent years, the park board earned between $500,000 to $800,000 a year from the concessions.

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29Sep

Walk in the park or road to ruin? New path in Kamloops park raises local concerns

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Some Kamloops residents are raising issues about a new $3.7-million multi-use pathway which connects a city park to a neighbourhood southwest of the downtown.

One concerned resident, Carman-Anne Schulz, describes parks as her passion and thinks the project is, overall, a good idea. However, she thinks the 1.7-kilometre walking and cycling path as built is too wide and takes up too much space of what she calls a pristine park.

She also thinks it will be too difficult for many people to use because of steep grades.

“One of the selling factors for the trail was a mother could put one of those bikes on the trail that could carry their children and could cycle up and down that trail,” Schulz told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.

“I’m a very strong cyclist, I’m 61, and I have to work hard. I have to back-and-forth a bit in my best hill-climbing gear… I’ve tried it.”

The path is in Peterson Creek Park and connects downtown Kamloops to the Sahali neighbourhood.

Carman-Anne Schulz says there are some problems with the soon-to-open cycling and walking path. (Shelley Joyce/CBC)

Schulz is also critical of the city for going $350,000 over the path’s original $3.35 million budget and is also concerned the park is too close to a marsh that she says is leaking water into retaining walls.

City believes project will be embraced

But officials with the City of Kamloops are defending their work on the project.

Liam Baker, the project’s manager, said the park’s larger footprint is for safety purposes: engineers, he explained, wanted cyclists and pedestrians to feel they had enough space to safely enjoy it.

“I think everyone will understand that it’s a really positive project once they get up here and walk it and bike it,” Baker said.

“Once they see how many people are using it and how much more access it grants to the whole parkland area, I think it’ll be really heavily used and appreciated.”

As for the budget overruns, Baker said those weren’t “too far out of line” for a project of this size. Council approved the extra spending, he added.

He admits the cycling grades could be considered a little steep but engineers had to contend with the existing topography of the park.

He believes water leaking issues have been sorted out but groundwater will be monitored.

The pathway is officially opens at the end of October.

Listen to the full story:

Some Kamloops residents are not happy about a new 1.7-kilometre, $3.7-million multi-use pathway in Peterson Creek Park connecting downtown to the Sahali neighbourhood. They are raising environmental, safety and accessibility concerns. 13:28

With files from CBC Radio One’s Daybreak Kamloops


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20Sep

Tent-city campers to be barred from Goldstream Provincial Park

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A police command centre has set up at Goldstream Provincial Park in Langford on Vancouver Island as homeless campers forced from green space in Saanich fear they are once again being pushed out.

Organizer Chrissy Brett said the Environment Ministry arrived after 5 p.m. Wednesday night and closed the park to all but registered campers. She said the park will be closed at 11 a.m. today to everyone, just two days after the campers arrived. Police had yet to confirm this Thursday morning.


Homeless campers at Goldstream Provincial Park on Sept. 19.

DARREN STONE, VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST /

PNG

Langford Mayor Stew Young signalled that his community would not put out the welcome mat for homeless campers who moved to Goldstream park on Tuesday evening.

A frustrated Young said he received hundreds of complaints by Wednesday from residents who are concerned about break-ins and drug use.

“The public is absolutely fed up. They know these are not just campers looking for a home. They’re in there stealing. They’re doing drugs. They leave needles everywhere,” said Young. “I can tell you, parents are already telling me their kids will never go in there again because you’ll never find all the needles, all the drugs and all the opioids.”

Young said he was “very disappointed” he didn’t get a call from the provincial government to let him know the campers were moving to the provincial park on the edge of his municipality.

“Housing Minister Selina Robinson was on the news talking about it. But no courtesy call to me saying ‘Guess what? We’re actually paying for them to go to a provincial park.’ If that’s their solution for homelessness, we have a really big problem, a bigger problem than I thought,” said Young.

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The government provides free camping at B.C. Parks to people who receive disability assistance through the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. The campers said they are planning to spend the next two weeks in the park to regroup and recuperate.

The government should have been better prepared after a homeless camp on the Victoria courthouse lawn cost taxpayers $3 million in legal fees and site cleanup, said Young. It’s estimated the tent city at Regina Park will cost Saanich taxpayers $1 million.

“The province should have been out in front of this in the first place,” said Young. “They’re not being responsible. Before they started moving people to a provincial park, there should have been some dialogue with police, council, my staff and myself. We got caught.”

Young has met with West Shore RCMP and senior staff to consider what to do to keep the community safe.

“Whoever thought of this is an absolute idiot,” he fumed.

A statement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said B.C. Parks staff will monitor the situation at Goldstream Park.

“While we understand this is not an ideal location, it is a safer location than the highway right of way where the campers were living previously.”

The goal is to get people into shelters and long-term housing.

“Solving this will require partnerships with regional and local government leaders to build appropriate and affordable housing. Unfortunately, while we already have 2,000 new modular homes in development across B.C., only one site for 21 units was identified in Victoria, and no other local governments within the CRD have identified land where we could build these homes.”

Young said staff from four ministries — Municipal Affairs and Housing, Mental Health and Addiction, the Attorney General, and Social Development and Poverty Reduction — should form a provincial action assessment team that goes out every day to help marginalized people.

“There’s so much money out there. Get out of your office and go work for these people. I don’t need a thousand people working in an office when the problem is out here, or in Saanich or in Victoria. Help them. Make sure they get the help they need. Find out where their families are,” said Young, who called the situation a crisis.

Putting 100 modular units in the middle of a neighbourhood for five years is stupid, said Young.

“They’re not going to solve the problem long-term. Build proper housing and build it faster and do it all over the province.”

The RCMP will do their job and uphold the law, said Young.

“They will arrest people if they are doing drugs. If anything is going on, they will uphold the law.”

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Dean Fortin, executive director of Pacifica Housing, said outreach workers did more than 100 vulnerability assessments when the campers lived in Regina Park.

“These aren’t a bunch of advocates with social privilege trying to raise a point. The vast majority of individuals who made up the camp were suffering from mental health and addictions. They are already classified by the ministry as people with disabilities. They have many challenges.”

More than 10 people from Regina Park have been placed in supportive housing, said Fortin.

Outreach staff will go to Goldstream, meet with the campers, understand their needs and see if they can help move them into permanent housing.

“It’s not a bad thing to have gone to Goldstream because they’re not under the constant threat of being displaced and made to move on. … The ability to just have two weeks of peace, and for us, as a service provider, that’s two weeks of us working to find a more permanent solution,” said Fortin.

Earlier, at Goldstream Park on Wednesday morning, sunlight streamed through the massive trees. The campers were enjoying their peaceful surroundings.

“It was so quiet last night, I heard an owl hoot,” said Lynne Hibak.

“I heard other people snoring,” said Lance Larsen. “I never heard that at the other camp because there was too much noise and it was drowned out by all the activity. If you have really good hearing, in the dead of night, you can hear the water trickling and the hiss of the waterfall.”

“No window warriors yelling at us,” said Don, who didn’t want his last name in the newspaper.

The campers said they were driven to the park by supporters.

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20Sep

Mounties shut down provincial park day after tent city campers move in

by admin

CTV Vancouver Island


Published Thursday, September 20, 2018 11:19AM PDT


Last Updated Thursday, September 20, 2018 12:38PM PDT

Just a day after homeless occupants from a former tent city moved into Goldstream Provincial Park, they and other campers have been told to leave.

West Shore RCMP arrived at the park Wednesday night briefly blocking access and telling campers it would be closed indefinitely after 11 a.m. Thursday.

Reports then surfaced that campers would be granted an additional 24 hours to pack up and move out of the camp whlie the government collected further information.

The park shutdown applies to all campers, not just the 25 or so tent city residents who moved in Wednesday night.

Those homeless campers said they were under the impression they’d be able to stay at the park for two weeks after they were evicted from two Saanich parks in a week.

“I went and talked to park ranger and he said ‘Oh we’re trying to nip it in the bud, we don’t want to see what’ll happen in two weeks from now,'” said camper Morgan Van Humbeck.

Tent city organizer Chrissy Brett called on B.C.’s premier to discuss options with the group instead of evicting them.

“John Horgan if you’re watching this I would ask you to ask your ministers to come down and have a conversation and sit around the one table we have left, and tell people to their face that they have no right to exist here in British Columbia if you’re homeless,” said Brett.

But Langford Mayor Stew Young said problems like open drug use and theft moved in along with the campers, prompting the shutdown.

“This is not a place to have needle sharps and other activity around that neighbourhood especially,” Stew Young told CFAX 1070. “We’ve already, from yesterday, had two individual instances of males in the washroom shooting up in front of other families that are in there and camping, so those people have left.”

Mounties referred questions to BC Parks, saying they were assisting the organization by enforcing regulations of the Parks Act.

On Thursday, B.C.’s housing minister Selina Robinson issued a statement saying that the campground was closed to ensure public safety after concerns were expressed by RCMP.

“The park is not an appropriate place for the establishment of a tent city. We urge those at Goldstream to work with staff to identify better housing solutions,” Robinson said.

She said the province’s goal is to get people into shelters and longer-term housing, but a CTV News report Wednesday found that all shelters in the Capital Region were full. Robinson pointed to 25 new shelter beds opening at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre Oct. 1.

She also noted that in the Capital Region, only the City of Victoria had identified a site for modular units of supportive housing that the government has committed to build.

That changed Thursday, when the District of Saanich announced it had identified a site near Saanich city hall for modular units to be built.

The section of land is north of the Saanich Fire Hall on Vernon Avenue.

“We’re hopeful that by providing this land, we’re moving in the right direction to secure housing and satisfy some of the need for housing in the region,” said Chief Administrative Officer Paul Thorkelsson.

The district said it will make another announcement soon once further details of the project are confirmed.

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