Greater Victoria residents in the Lakehurst Drive area started filtering to the entrance of the Goldstream Provincial Park campsite Thursday morning waiting to see Camp Namegans Nation members off and out of their neighbourhood.
But after some confusion in the morning, Camp Namegans – the group that recently moved from their residence at Regina Park near Uptown Mall – was permitted to stay at the park with no immediate deadline.
One of the first Langford residents that arrived was Liz Willman, a resident of the area for more than 30 years. Willman said that having a large group of nearly 30 people converge on the campsite will affect the cleanliness of the park and she’s concerned about the safety of those in the community.
“I’m not going to put up with this, there’s children in this neighbourhood,” Willman said.
Within the last 48 hours Willman encountered a supporter of Camp Namegans loitering in front of her liquor store across from the park. She said when she told him to leave he was defiant and said she couldn’t tell him what to do. She added there’s a difference between homeless people and a group that is trying to take a political stand that affects neighbouring communities.
“This is a group that they want to speak for something and stand for something. They need to be at the parliament buildings to be heard, not here,” Willman said.
At around 11:30 a.m. there were dozens of Langford resident that had gathered at the campsite entrance and heated discussions between Camp Namegans supporters and residents took place.
Tensions running high at the entrance of #GoldstreamPark between Langford residents and #CampNamegans supporters. @WestshoreRCMP are here to ensure civility between the groups. @GoldstreamNews #yyj #yyjnews pic.twitter.com/XPFTYCFTMD
— Lindsey Horsting (@lindseyhorsting) September 20, 2018
Langford resident Darryl Wasilenkoff doesn’t want Goldstream Park to be left with garbage like when this group left Regina Park.
“I definitely have a concern that the park is going to get treated the same way. I understand people need to bring stuff to live, but it’s not appropriate to bring it into a provincial park that has a delicate ecosystem,” Wasilenkoff said. “I don’t see any other campers coming down here and bringing garbage, I really hope they don’t [either].”
Langford Mayor Stew Young said he has received more than 100 e-mails and phone calls from concerned residents.
“In 24 hours, we’ve had more police incidents in that area than we’ve had all year,” Young said, noting “this is a problem and the public has a reason to be concerned … Drugs and open drug use is not going to be allowed, I don’t care where you are, that is the law and the RCMP will do their job. We’re not doing anything different than we normally would.”
With files from Keili Bartlett.