The standoff continues between the Canadian city of Langford and the approximately 34 homeless campers, all that remain in the Goldstream Provincial Park, as the homeless campers’ organizer and Langford mayor feud.
Organizer Chrissy Brett said Langford Mayor Stew Young has declared war on the poor by inciting fear among park neighbors about increased crime and drug use related to the campers, and threatened to stay in Langford if the city’s mayor doesn’t back off from his criticisms, reports the Times Colonist.
The mayor said Brett’s “confrontational rhetoric” is a disservice to vulnerable people – those addicted to drugs and alcohol, those with mental health challenges, those who pay for their habits through crime – who need help from the province.
On Monday night, Young met with B.C. Premier John Horgan, who is the area’s MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly). The mayor was scheduled to be part of a conference call with provincial ministers Tuesday, Sept. 25, to discuss how to coordinate their different approaches to help the homeless people at the park.
Brett said the original plan was for people with disabilities, who are allowed to camp for free, to stay at Goldstream for two weeks.
The intent was to return to Saanich – where the group had stayed for five months in Regina Park and a couple of days in a Ravine Way green space – in the hopes of finding housing solutions.
Under a B.C. Housing initiative to provide 2,000 modular homes to municipalities that provide free land, Saanich has offered land near its fire hall on Vernon Avenue for 40 to 60 homes. B.C. Housing is assessing the land. If approved, Brett said some of the people at the camp might be first in line for that housing, which Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said could be ready in the spring.
The Langford mayor’s generalizations about the campers’ drug use and criminality and the Environment Ministry’s insistence on keeping the park campground gate locked, citing safety concerns, has taken its toll on campers, Brett said. The campers may be “looking at creating something way more permanent – probably not in Goldstream Park – but somewhere in Langford.”
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Couldn’t their energy be focused in a more positive direction. How about this, use some community vans to go to the park, each and every week day morning. Supply some sort of “meals on wheels” Canadian equivalent, so they are nourished for the days work schedule.
Next, employ habitat for humanity (Canadian chapter) volunteers to teach these homeless how to construct their new home, (love this one), on free land.
I bet they would rather stay put and fight the mayor, whop… it up in the media, and play the whoa is me card, rather than do a good old Canadian version of the CCC.