Langford Mayor lists alleged crimes after one day of homeless campers at Goldstream
The Mayor of Langford alleges that theft, drug use, and trespassing have taken place within the one day that tent city campers have been at Goldstream Park Provincial Campground.
"Instances of males in the washroom shooting up in front other families that are camping, so those people have left. We've had theft already from other campers in the campsite. We've had thefts and people going into people's houses and properties. A guy, fortunately his dog barked and chased two people... in his backyard. We've recovered a stolen car and we've arrested a guy with a warrant. So that's in one day," says Mayor Stew Young. He says he has been in regular contact with RCMP about the activity.
West Shore RCMP moved in Wednesday night and assisted park rangers as they told all people staying at the campsite that the park would close at 11 the following morning. RCMP officers barricaded the road and restricted access.
Homeless campers moved to Goldstream Park, within the municipality of Langford, after police moved them out of camps near Ravine Way and at Regina Park in Saanich.
Young says he's been flooded with calls and emails from concerned residents. "I have police at the schools now making sure that the kids are walking to the schools safe."
Young says he was in touch with the provincial government and asked what was going to be done. He was told about the decision to close Goldstream ahead of time. Despite the quick action from the Ministry of Environment on the Goldstream closure, Young is highly critical of how the province is handling the larger issue of tent cities.
"What we have is municipalities footing the bill, the taxpayers at the municipal level doing all of this enforcement. The police show up, but where's the [provincial] government frontline? They should have 20 or 30 people showing up at these places doing assessments on the spot and maybe trying to help these people. I know it's difficult for them - I know it's difficult for the [province] to do this - but we need to put more resources into this because communities all around B.C. are having this problem now. Municipalities do not have ministries with 30 or 40 thousand people working in them," says Young.
Young is calling on the province to stop spending money cleaning up tent cities and, instead, spend the money on providing shelter space and support for homeless people.