The City of Victoria is investigating after an individual made threats against parks and recreation staff working in Beacon Hill Park. The incident has led to a group of employees refusing work.
According to a statement released by the city on Saturday (July 25), two municipal staff members were working in Beacon Hill Park on July 21 when they were confronted by an individual uttering “threatening remarks about harming them and members of the public.” The two workers moved to a “safe location” and called 911.
Following the Tuesday incident, a group of parks staff chose to exercise their right to refuse work. The city is “working with the union to support our staff and ensure their working rights are respected.”
The municipality also said that staff’s work in Beacon Hill Park will be limited to picking up garbage and cleaning bathrooms until an investigation is complete.
In a written statement, Mayor Lisa Helps said she was “disheartened” to hear that city staff had encountered verbal abuse and threats while working in the park, and that “everyone deserves to feel safe in their workplace.”
According to the city, staff are confronted by aggressive people occasionally but have become more common during the pandemic as more people look to find overnight shelter in parks. City officials do hazard risk assessments regularly.
Helps added that she’s grateful to parks staff’s “exceptional work” and noted that Victoria will continue to push provincial and federal government agencies to increase funding for housing and mental health services.
The city’s parks yard – located on Nursery Road in Beacon Hill Park – remains open and staff are still working in other municipal parks.