Taxpayers in Victoria have already dug deep into their pockets to pay for damages and security as a result of campers during the pandemic, and will likely fork over $1 million or more before restoration is completed..
It’s estimated that $360,000 will be spent in 2021 to restore the damaged parks, a figure that excludes money for extra security and other associated costs.
A staff report to council Sept. 9 recommended 144 sites in 10 parks be remediated over four years starting in 2022. Restoration would begin with Beacon Hill Park, Cecelia Ravine Park, Topaz Park and Stadacona Park at a cost of $535,000.
“Was the way city council chose to handle the crisis the best way?” asks John Treleaven, chair of Grumpy Taxpayer$.
The report details a five-phase restoration approach: debris removal and clean up, impact assessment, hazard removal, restoration of damage to soil, turf, plants and ecosystems, and monitoring to ensure impacted areas continue to thrive.
The budget for continuing the remediation in 2023 and 2024 are unknown (contrary to other media reports) and yet to be costed. So, a newly-elected council will need to deal with future costs following a municipal election in the fall of 2022.
Meanwhile, a court case launched by Friends of Beacon Hill Park who argue the trust that governs the park prohibits sheltering in the park is slowly winding its way through the courts. More than 30,000 people signed a petition calling on the city to reverse its’ decision allowing it to become a tent city.
Cost of remediating parks incalculable until work complete, CTV News Vancouver Island, June 2, 2021.
Multi-year effort proposed to repair Victoria parks affected by camping; initial cost: $535,000, Times Colonist, Sept. 5, 2021.
Group says city is blocking affidavit in Beacon Hill Park sheltering court case, Times Colonist, Aug. 7, 2021.