Saanich considers bylaw change to remove camper’s garbage, junk from parks

Cuthbert Holmes the catalyst for bylaw revision to remove junk

Saanich is looking at dealing with the ongoing problem of abandoned garbage that plagues Cuthbert Holmes Park.

The issue stems mostly from campers who set up semi-permanent sites. Their ‘chattels,’ or personal possessions, are often single use items or, are items that become unusable as they are quickly damaged by the unprotected elements. Campers soon move on, whether it’s to a housing situation, or sometimes within the park but to a new site. The result are piles of garbage, sometimes a year old.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell confirmed that “Saanich is working on a parks bylaw revision that would address chattels in parks like Cuthbert Holmes Park.”

The directive came during council on March 19, from a brief “rise and report” based on an in-camera meeting held earlier that day.

“Council directs staff to draft amendments to parks management and control bylaw 1997 No. 7753, to authorize the seizure, removal and disposition of chattels from Saanich parks,” read the report.

The word ‘chattel’ is currently absent from the bylaw.

The goal is to empower Saanich Parks, Saanich bylaw officers, and Saanich Police, with the ability to enforce stricter protection of parks, namely Cuthbert Holmes, a long-term favourite of campers for its proximity to the amenities offered at George R. Pearkes Recreation Centre, Tillicum Shopping Centre and the surrounding area.

Saanich’s municipal solicitor is among those currently considering a bylaw revision, Atwell said, but there’s no set date for the report to come to council.

The issues of the campers in Cuthbert Holmes and other parks in Saanich are well documented. Saanich Police’s community engagement division are familiar with campers and are usually on a first-name basis. Even the park’s biggest advocates, such as Julian Anderson, have argued there is no sense in removing campers without anywhere to put them. The police have helped many find shelter, though some return regardless.

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