Fire breaks out with exploding propane tanks at an entrenched tent camp in Maple Ridge, March 2019. (Maple Ridge News)

Fire breaks out with exploding propane tanks at an entrenched tent camp in Maple Ridge, March 2019. (Maple Ridge News)

B.C. VOTES 2020: Wilkinson to stop 24-hour camping in city parks

Ban on ‘unsafe roadside panhandling’ to be enforced

A B.C. Liberal government will impose a “provincial mandate” on local governments to prevent 24-hour camping in urban parks, leader Andrew Wilkinson says.

The issue of sanctioned campsites in urban areas is emerging as a key one in the 2020 election, as it was in 2017 when organized camps in Nanaimo, Victoria and Maple Ridge brought drug dealing and crime to neighbourhoods. Transitional housing imposed by the NDP government remains a divisive issue in Maple Ridge, where leader John Horgan was targeted by a loud protester on his first visit since calling the early election for Oct. 24.

At a campaign event in Vancouver Oct. 1 dealing with public safety, Wilkinson wouldn’t specify exactly how the province would force municipalities such as Victoria or Maple Ridge to stop overnight camping. He renewed his attack on Horgan’s approach, which he calls “warehousing,” leaving the same neighbourhood crime as grows up around urban camps. Wilkinson said the province has a duty to treat people with medical needs who are the most vulnerable when criminals take control of camps.

RELATED: Police break up drug camp outside Victoria city hall

RELATED: Few solutions offered for ‘out of control’ camping

“We need prevention and recovery to get people well, and we need to end these lawless camps and tent cities in city parks with a provincial mandate to help these vulnerable British Columbians,” Wilkinson said. “Our most vulnerable citizens are being left on the streets of our cities, many suffering from brain injuries, addictions and untreated mental illness.”

The party’s news release says only that a B.C. Liberal government would “move to end lawless camping in day-use urban parks,” as well as “enforce the ban on unsafe roadside panhandling” and work with police to add mental health response and target gangs.

Wilkinson said he agrees with Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog, a former NDP MLA who has suggested secure custody, as local police deal with people who have been barred from supportive housing and shelters for violent and illegal behaviour. But like preventing people from camping when shelters are nearly full, that runs into court challenges based on constitutional rights.

Victoria council lifted its unevenly enforced restriction on 24-hour campers in parks this spring, citing COVID-19 health orders that restricted shelters and group gatherings. Sanctioned camping in Victoria parks and a roving tent camp in Vancouver parks prompted the NDP government to buy more hotels this summer and move occupants in so parks could be reclaimed.

NDP candidate Melanie Mark, advanced education minister until the election call, stirred debate with her call for city-sanctioned park campsites in Vancouver to give time to find or build transition housing.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Most Read