Afternoon, downtown Victoria having recently returned from the USA. The population of ‘street people’ a.k.a. beggars appears to have more than doubled since I last meandered around Fort, Douglas and Government Streets. Might be just a seasonal thing, might be to do with the increase from the homeless encampment back of the court buildings. I’ve got to the stage where I just tune all the begging out and carry on with where I’m going. Same for those raising petitions for ‘Transgender rights’ and suchlike. Frankly you couldn’t pay me to care. I’d probably raise an eyebrow if a person in a dress stood next to me in a public toilet to use the boys urinals, but so long as they keep themselves to themselves I’m not bothered. I’ve spent too much time in Paris and elsewhere to be fazed by such weirdness. Although if I still had small children, my reaction might be a leetle bit more defensive.
However, closer to the camp, Victoria’s usually moribund crime rate has rocketed 46% with all sorts off bad manners. For example; while having coffee yesterday, I observed more than the usual number of uniformed officers on foot. Not in a hurry, just walking purposefully as if they were on the lookout for somebody or something. Which piqued my curiosity. My reasoning is thus; if the local coppers are, then some kind of game is afoot.
I’ve also noted new security measures going up all around downtown in a subdued, very Victorian manner. New railings and barriers in car parks etcetera. I mean the crusties are not a real problem for those who used to people being less than well behaved, but for others who have a fit of the vapours and call 911 on the silliest of pretexts…. Well, perhaps that’s another story.
As for the camp itself, the hearing over its existence has been put back to September, something which a lot of people are not terribly enchanted about. Me, I think the whole issue is borderline out of control since well-meaning, but totally witless, people authorised the provision of plumbing and flush toilets instead of simply kicking out the less desirable elements and providing homeless shelter spaces for those in real need. Which act has made it more comfortable for the less than law-abiding and left local residents with an escalating crime problem. See the comment from ‘Wafflesdemonslayer’ on this thread. I’ll lay odds that’s not the only story of this nature.
At present Mrs S and I are contemplating a move away from Victoria itself. Working online as we do, we don’t need to be this close to downtown as the rents are too high and there’s not enough quality entertainment there to keep us coming back. On the other hand, if increasing crime sends over inflated property and rental prices spiralling downwards, I might be willing to buy in and campaign hard for the nuisance to be removed. On the other hand, knowing how wringing wet some vociferous people are around here, I’d probably be backing a losing horse.
Just as a fantasy exercise; I wonder what would happen if someone with real money wanted the crusties gone? Say they hired four dozen private security guys from off island to wash the camp off the map in the small hours of the night with fire hoses. The local hipsters get plausible deniability and the opportunity to virtue signal frantically about how horrible someone must be to be so mean to all these poor people. The less desirables get a serious eviction message and the crime rate takes a nosedive. But I don’t think anyone round here is really that ruthless. Not that I’m advocating anything of that nature, but it’s a thought.
A more palatable alternative might be to get the local cops to strictly enforce existing bylaws forbidding booze and other intoxicants from being consumed in BC’s public parks and confiscating any containers found. Back it up by threatening the liquor licences of stores who knowingly supply the camp. As it is in a public space, a tent there is not covered by legal restrictions on searches, so, no need for warrants. Sure it’s harassment, but the camp itself is already a source of harassment for local residents. Not that some seem to be interested. They’re more interested in painting the crosswalks.
Heavy sigh. We’ll see what this years tourist season brings.