Organizers and supporters of a warming space and shelter set up in Mouat Park on Jan. 6 agreed to move the facility’s tents, chairs and other supplies on Friday morning after Capital Regional District staff showed up to enforce a CRD bylaw contravention order.
Bylaw enforcement personnel and Parks and Recreation manager Dan Ovington advised about 20 people at the site that everything would be removed from the area by CRD staff if it was not done by those using the space, as per an order issued yesterday.
“If there’s an issue with the legality of what you’re doing it won’t be discussed here and now,” CRD bylaw enforcement officer Lanning Kann told the group, which included some people who have been staying at the site off a path near the Seaview Avenue side of Mouat Park as well as supportive community members. “We have a job that we have to do and it’s going to be done.”
Bylaw staff said the warming space belongings could be brought out and stored on another part of the park, and that anyone who was homeless could set up a tent there between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Warming Space Collective spokesperson Kajin Goh was attempting to connect with CRD bylaw head Mark Groulx on the phone at that time, and later noted how no one with real authority at the CRD seemed willing to talk with the group about finding a workable solution.
“We are not the people who can make the decisions,” said Kann, when people were pressing for an in-depth discussion about the issues related to using Mouat Park for shelter purposes in the cold weather.
Several Salt Spring RCMP officers also attended on Friday morning but were not involved with discussions between community members and CRD staff.
For more on this story, see the Feb. 2 issue of the Driftwood.