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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

Ava Hamill is taking part in Myles of Smiles virtual open mic event through Creative Compass Society. (Creative Compass Society/Special to the Aldergrove Star)
Myles of Smiles virtual open mic event in need of musician submissions

Annual concert is organized by Creative Compass Society, which aims to foster emerging talent

Tom Hammel (Special to Langley Advance Times)
COVID gives Langley musician time and inspiration for new album

Collaboration brings ‘high-level’ artists together – but not literally

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Share your opinion with editor@langleyadvancetimes.com
LETTER: Langley Township council daytime meeting prevents resident involvement

A newcomer to the community is concerned about working people not being able to local politics

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Graphic on promo material for Best Buy Canada’s Tech Wonderland event.
Drive-through ‘Tech Wonderland’ coming to PNE site a few weeks before Christmas

Best Buy Canada-backed ‘holiday’ event to raise money for charity

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness watches the results on election night. The ex-Liberal’s tumultuous campaign and the narrow margin for victory ahead of the mail-in ballot count leaves the future of the riding’s seat in limbo for at least the next week. (Facebook/Laurie Throness)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Future for Throness uncertain as Chilliwack-Kent awaits results

Chilliwack-Kent candidate hopeful, resigned waiting on final count

Most Read