Re: “Lessons from Cridge Park must not be ignored,” letter, July 30.
Our elected officials are working hard to make headway in the search for lasting solutions to Victoria’s homelessness crisis, while individuals and groups have spoken out clearly about anticipated impacts that temporary shelters could have on their neighbourhoods. My hope is that this debate will result in meaningful progress in the future.
I also believe it is important to clarify the position of the Victoria Police Department regarding this important issue.
VicPD is working shoulder-to-shoulder with the City of Victoria to address the issue of homelessness. We regularly collaborate with our colleagues across all city departments to assess any and all risks associated with various options, including such crucial factors as public safety and neighbourhood health.
What is abundantly clear to us at VicPD is that the status quo is both unacceptable and unsustainable. Every morning, our officers work with city bylaw staff to wake up dozens of people in our public parks in accordance with existing bylaws.
Often, parks department crews are required to assist with the removal of debris that includes bio-waste and used syringes. Last year alone, more than $600,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent on this daily routine.
As you can imagine, these duties are difficult for all parties involved: The people we wake up, the neighbouring residents, and even our officers, although they fully recognize their duty to assist in keeping the peace this way.
That is why VicPD will continue to work with the City of Victoria to explore any and all options that offer promise, in a way that helps to keep all of our citizens safe.
Frank J. Elsner, chief constable
Victoria Police Department