Save Beacon Hill Park
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We petition the City of Victoria to reverse its decision to let Beacon Hill become a tent city.
There are over 90 homeless and RV campers now camping in our city’s majestical city park. There are numerous large structures and encampments of multiple tents with increasingly unsafe and unsanitary conditions (against your own bylaws). Social distancing and self-isolating is not occurring. There are wood stoves, beer kegs, chop shops and tents stationed in clearly marked sensitive Garry Oak Ecosystems (also against your own bylaws). These ecosystems are home to more plant species than any other terrestrial ecosystem in coastal British Columbia. Many of these species occur nowhere else in Canada. They are biologically significant and are being destroyed.
We have children playing next to tents, needles and human waste during COVID 19! The picnic area by the children’s play area has been entirely taken over by the homeless. With five tents in the small area and two picnic tables being used up, you can no longer picnic there. There are two bicycle chop shops operating in the bushes within the closed sensitive ecosystem areas. Park users have been followed, harassed and threatened. It is now dangerous to walk through Beacon Hill Park at night.
Also, there was strong public opposition to having camper vans using Beacon Hill Park like a free campground. Yet there are now 15 RVs and camper vans in and around Beacon Hill Park (including two RVs from Alberta and one from Manitoba) in addition to garbage and many tents.
As taxpayers, we are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain our Butchart Gardens-like Beacon Hill while it is wilfully being destroyed. Victoria is built on tourism and when our tourists return, we can’t have Beacon Hill Park serve as a tent city and criminal epicentre as it currently is. We need our local economy to rebound! Beacon Hill Park is one of the absolute highlights and top attractions of our city!
Dr. Stanwick had said that there was a decision NOT to use Beacon Hill Park for a tent city. A tent city now exists in the park.
This park is the gem of our city. Why are we spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on this beautiful park while allowing the homeless to destroying it while stealing our possessions? Beacon Hill Park is not a tent city and it’s not an RV park. It’s time to stop this from happening. We also need to better fund our police force as our neighbourhood is no longer safe. We believe our Vic PD has done a tremendous job and need to be better funded and supported. Our Bylaw and Victoria police officers have been doing their best but have been frustrated by Council continually ignoring expert advice and denying the reality of what is happening in the park.
Furthermore, the City of Victoria is also breaking the law in deciding to establish a tent city at Beacon Hill Park. It was under the terms of the amended act of 1881, that the lands known as Beacon Hill Park were conveyed to the City of Victoria on February 21, 1882 by Province of British Columbia Order by Order In Council #35, “To be maintained and preserved by the Corporation and their successors for the use, recreation and enjoyment of the public.” (Ireland, “Title to Beacon Hill Park,” May 8, 1942, p.8) Two landmark rulings have upheld that Beacon Hill Park cannot be used for other purposes. The legal action against the City allowing the Agricultural Hall on Park land was carried to the Supreme Court. Judge Matthew Begbie ruled on August 30, 1884, that the building was not an acceptable use because it did not constitute public recreational use and enjoyment, according to The Trust… Begbie specifically noted that, in his opinion, the following uses were also not permitted: a university, sanatorium, a barracks for soldiers, a lunatic asylum, and a cemetery. Begbie's ruling, "Anderson vs. Corporation of the City of Victoria," concluded that the Park was not to be used "for general purposes of profit, or utility, however great the prospect of these may be.”
Therefore, we demand that Beacon Hill Park no longer serve as a campground or tent city for the homeless and for camper vans.
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