"Not us and them," Town hall on Beacon Hill campers set for today
There has been growing contention in Victoria between on the subject of campers at Beacon Hill Park.
A virtual town hall, hosted by council hopeful Stephen Andrew, is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. Sunday to discuss solutions to the controversy.
Since the 100 or so campers moved into the park, after Topaz Park and Pandora Ave were closed off to the homeless, some residents in the are have been voicing their concerns over safety and the delicate ecosystem of landscape.
Over 21, 000 people have signed a petition to kick the campers out, a group of city parks staff refuse to work due to unsafe conditions and police are investigating a ‘chop shop’ where they found a large number of bicycles and power tools.
"The idea is to bring the community together, it's not to complain, because I don't think that's going to do anything. We are going to sit down and come up with some solutions, and then advocate for those solutions to camping in parks," says Andrew, who is planning to run for the vacant seat on Victoria Council when the by election is called.
"It's very simple, we are the community, we are the ones that are using the parks and the other situation is we have a community of people that do not have homes. So the two are just not connecting and the idea is to bring people together to come up with some realistic solutions that we can move forward on."
Mayor Lisa Helps has called for patience from residents while the city advocates for more money from provincial and federal governments for housing, but has offered little by way of solutions to those who have voiced their concerns.
"I don't want to attack Lisa Helps, but the one thing I would say is that there is an impression that politicians have thrown their hands up in the air and said 'there's nothing we can do," He says the problem in the park is more than just two sides of a debate.
"There are more than two sides. That's the issue. It's not a question of us and them. It's a questions of us and each person in this situation, whether it be a person living close to the park, the person who wants to use the park, the campers, the family of the campers, the government, the residents; everybody has a position on this, everybody has a feeling, everybody is impacted. There are many, many sides to this and we have to find common ground."
To get involved in the discussion go to eventbrite.ca and search for Beacon Hill Park. The online townhall is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.