LETTER: Time to clean up Saanich camp

I am very pleased to hear that our B.C. government is providing good homes for the homeless, and hope that will apply soon in Saanich.

In sight from my home are tents and cabins among the trees at the southwest corner of McKenzie and Douglas streets. The camp is near a stop for buses 70, 71, 72 and 75. A few steps away is bus 51, which goes to UVic and Camosun College. Consider how those students will enrich your future as doctors, nurses, executives, scientists, teachers and more.

Odds might be low that any bus rider cares much about the encampment. Odds were also low that a Nova Scotia man would dress up as a Mountie and kill 22 people before being shot to death himself. Yet the latter happened.

The camp is on land posted with two metal “No Trespassing” signs placed by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. A small garbage dump is in the bushes near the camp. Perhaps sanitation officials could advise what a dump means for disease, and for rat infestation.

Residents here say that a few campers might patrol our area and steal things. This could be similar to Topaz Park. Victoria Police reported a 126 per cent rise in small crime once tenters were moved in from Pandora Street.

When I saw this camp last fall, I thought, ‘Let them get through the winter, something might come along.’ Now it has come along.

When these campers get homes, they could also be acknowledged as ‘guardians’ to watch over the site. This shows we recognize their needs, and provides them with a place of honour. The small ornamental garden, which need not be destroyed, could perhaps feature a plaque and serve as a living memorial to the original campers. The vacant site could be designated as a wildlife refuge or habitat preserve, and have signs that welcome daily visitors but also firmly advise “No Camping.” Such “No Camping” signs already exist in Victoria.

The homeless need not be ‘cast aside’ to camps. It’s true in Saanich, too.

Richard Kubik

Saanich

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