Sheltering in Parks
The Fairfield Gonzales Community Association recognizes the impact sheltering in parks represents for all residents of Fairfield Gonzales, housed or unhoused. Although homelessness needs to be addressed by all levels of government, community members have a role to play and we work on a daily basis at supporting them.
To learn more about the position of our organization, read our Board statement.
US & THEM: Virtual Screening & Community Conversation
The pandemic has put a major spotlight on an issue that has been growing for decades: homelessness. The situation is intense. Communities are divided as we grapple with the converging crises of homelessness, overdose, and COVID-19. To provide an opportunity for people to connect, the documentary US AND THEM will be available to watch virtually followed by a community conversation, a few days later. US AND THEM is an emotionally powerful film that leaves audiences with new perspectives about the unhoused. The goal of this event is to understand why we are so divided, to listen to each other, and find potential solutions to alleviate stress on all sides. This will be a difficult conversation but attempting to mend the divide will make our community stronger.
On Tuesday, June 15, Fairfield Gonzales Community Association, Rockland Neighbourhood Association, Fairfield Gonzales Support for the Unhoused, and the Fairfield and James Bay United Churches are hosting this event featuring the following panellists: Douglas King, Executive Director of Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS), Kellie Moriarty, Community Integration Specialist at the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and film participants Eddie Golko and Krista Loughton.
Register for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/us-and-them-virtual-screening-community-conversation-tickets-157298679585
US AND THEM Trailer: https://youtu.be/SSCZogP4cM8
How can I help to make things better in my neighbourhood?
Join the Fairfield Gonzales Support for the Unsheltered
Late October 2020, a group of volunteers started to meet via Zoom. They wanted to know what they can do to help unsheltered people in the parks, by building relationships with them. Today, about two dozen volunteers meet online every Wednesday and continue to work to support unsheltered and recently housed people. They are also providing orientation and informal training to new volunteers. Many different volunteer positions are available, including ones with and without direct contact with unhoused people. To start, contact Virginie at email@example.com.
The group also purchases necessary items to relieve poverty for unhoused people with cash donations from the community. Donate by clicking this button. You will be directed to CanadaHelps’ secure platform, where you can choose where to direct your donation:
**If you would like to directly support rent costs, please do not donate to FGCA, donate through Fairfield United Church, https://fairfieldunitedchurch.com/support as they are supporting rent costs to help unhoused people access housing. You will be able to direct your donation to this program.
The latest project being implemented is Sponsor teams. Based on a sponsorship of refugees model, they mobilize residents living near parks to raise money and provide the support people need to find housing. More news to come!
To learn more about this group:
- Listen to the CBC radio interview of Heather Murphy and Elaine Weidner (February 2021)
- Read the Capital Daily article about their group (February 2021)
Learn about homelessness in Victoria
– More information about City regulations:
The 7am-7pm bylaw which required unhoused individuals to pack up during the day has been relaxed, and at this time shelters can remain up during the day. These are the rules outlined on the City of Victoria webpage for sheltering in City parks.
- Sheltering is not permitted in environmentally sensitive areas, playgrounds, sports fields, flower beds, cemeteries, footpaths, and roads within a park
- No fires, open flames or flammable gas canisters are permitted
- Do not attach shelters to trees or shrubs, park benches, lamp posts or other structures
- Do not remove tree branches or use City property to construct shelters
- Keep your shelter site clean and properly dispose of all garbage
- Be more than four metres (12 feet) away from another occupied tent or structure
- Updated: October 1, 2020: Handout outlining new bylaws, services, and parks where sheltering is permitted.
Overnight sheltering is currently not permitted in the following Fairfield Gonzales parks:
- Moss Rocks Park
- Robert Porter Park
– Learn about stories of people with lived experience of homelessness
We have recently virtually hosted an event in collaboration with the Existence Project (Facebook page for information about events and other contents). Listen to many people’s stories and understand why empathy and sustainable help are key to find solutions to this humanitarian crisis.
If you are concerned about an activity in a neighbourhood park
Please contact the appropriate department or organization from the list below.
- City of Victoria: Bylaw Services
- To report a bylaw violation or submit a service request (parks, sidewalks, etc) you can use the online reporting toolon the City of Victoria website
- Contact Manager of Bylaw Services: Shannon Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-361-0215
- City of Victoria: Parks Department
- To request maintenance or clean-up in a park (garbage, needles, etc), contact the City of Victoria Parks Office at email@example.com or 250-361-0600
- Email Director of Parks, Recreation, and Facilities: Thomas Soulliere at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Request a needle pick up from SOLID Outreachby calling 250-298-9497.
- City of Victoria: Public Works
- To request removal of items that have been illegally dumped by contact Public Works at 250-361-0400 or email email@example.com.
- Victoria Police
- To report a crime in progressor an immediate threat to safety: CALL 911
- To report a crime or traffic complaint after it has occurred, you can use the online reporting tool
- Or, you can call VicPD’s non-emergency line at 250-995-7654
- Contact Community Resource Officer: Mark Jenkins at 250-888-6491
- VIHA Encampment Outreach Team
- To request support from the VIHA Outreach team which includes a Nurse and a Mental Health Crisis Response Counsellor between 8am-8pm call the outreach phone number: 250-216-9119
- Provides on site medical assistance, COVID tests, flu shots (when available), mental health and crisis intervention and support, assistance filling out BC Housing forms.
- City of Victoria: Mayor and Council