Oak Bay police have stepped up bike patrols along the Avenue after noticing a recent increase in the number of homeless and people in need in the area.
“I think it’s a concern if they start aggressive panhandling or they’re intoxicated down there,” said Chief Constable Mark Fisher. “Again, in those instances, we’ve arrested those people for being intoxicated when we find them down there.”
Officers arrested one individual for public intoxication last week, and have responded to a number of complaints from residents over the past month.
Still, in some cases, the complaints were unfounded.
“I think it’s important for people to realize that if they are … not aggressively panhandling and they’re not intoxicated or consuming liquor in public, then they’re not breaking any law by being there,” Fisher said.
At least one Oak Bay resident has also noticed the “new faces” along the Avenue.
In a letter to the editor recently written to Oak Bay News, Scott Piercy said that in all the years he has lived in the community, he has never been “hasselled for money by transients” – until now.
Some of those new faces are returning empty refundable bottles and cans to a beer and wine store in the area, while others say they are enjoying Oak Bay hospitality.
“Some of them have told us the people in Oak Bay are nicer to them,” Fisher said.