Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and city councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe have tabled a motion calling for an increased police presence at city parks where many homeless encampments have formed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Helps and Thornton-Joe are recommending that nearly $100,000 be directed to VicPD so that police can add a special duty patrol to parks seven days a week.
The increased police presence is intended to improve safety for both park-goers and campers, according to the mayor.
“Additional police resources will have the benefit of ensuring greater public safety for everyone, from members of the public recreating in parks, to staff working in parks to vulnerable people living in parks who can and have been preyed upon by others,” reads the motion.
Helps and Thornton-Joe are recommending that $94,528 be provided to VicPD, based on cost estimates provided by the police department.
To have special duty officers attend parks for four hours a day between Sept. 11 and Dec.31, VicPD estimates that it will cost $94,528 to have patrols present seven days a week. That estimate shrinks to $67,520 for extra patrols five days a week and reduces to $40,512 for three days a week.
According to Helps and Thornton-Joe, having special duty officers patrol parks would allow police who are on regular patrol or community services division assignments to better focus on their primary duties.
“A continued collaborative and consistent approach with special duty officers, while maintaining police response to all other calls for service, will be beneficial to all our residents,” reads the tabled motion.
Victoria city council will discuss the motion at a committee of the whole meeting Thursday.
Councillors will also review a report from city staff that recommends placing restrictions on homeless encampments, like where they can be placed and how much space must be between each individual shelter on Thursday.
City staff are also calling for more funding for bylaw services to enforce the new proposed camping restrictions.
A motion to have a survey funded to examine the needs of homeless people in the city will also be discussed at the committee of the whole meeting.