Victoria mayor will fight to get Centennial Square banned to campers

Centennial campers

During yesterday's (Thursday's) meeting of the Committee of the Whole, Councillor Geoff Young surprised many when he moved to take Centennial Square OFF a list of proposed sites to be banned to campers.

During a news conference this afternoon, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps was asked what she thought about that:

" Well first of all I was shocked, quite honestly, about the proposal to remove centennial Square from the prohibited list of sites."

City Staff had put Centennial Square on a list where camping should not be allowed -- but Coun. Young's motion passed, supported by councillors Isitt,  Potts, Dubow and Alto.

But Helps says there is still  an opportunity to change things:

"The good news is that was just direction to staff to draft the bylaw. You can be sure that when this comes back I am going to make a motion to add Centennial Square back into the list of prohibited sites, and hope that at least 2 councillors will change their vote."

Helps says it makes no sense to allow camping in the downtown core, and notes staff made a thoughtful recommendation which was supported by the Downtown Business Association.

She adds it's likely also informally supported by many who would like to use the square, including vulnerable citizens.

" This is the time to come together as a council. It's the time to come together as a community. And it's the time to implement really thoughtful solutions. And it's not thoughtful, and it's not good for anyone to have people camping in the downtown. We saw that, staff acted, they are remediating the site now."

Helps is clear that while no park is appropriate for sheltering in a country like Canada, some places may be better than others. However the middle of the central business district is not one of them.