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

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Image: Castleview Care Centre’s Safety Den presentation
Castlegar’s Castleview Care Centre wins safety innovation competition

The Dragon’s Den-style competition was sponsored by Safecare BC

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

Most Read