April 28, 2021

Dear Mayor & Council

I find myself sitting at my dining table in my tiny apartment in tears as I look out onto Beacon Hill Park. The stress of what is happening in and around the park has triggered my Multiple Sclerosis; I have lost feeling in both my hands and feet. I have worked so hard over the past 25 years to manage my health to prevent this from happening.

For those of you who don’t live in or around the park I need you to understand the stress and trauma it is creating for those of us who do and for those who are sheltering in the park awaiting housing.

I think it is fair to say that most of the people living in Beacon Hill and around the park are not homeless haters and we are supportive of those who have taken shelter and are doing what they can to follow city, provincial and federal laws and bylaws. What we are not supportive of however, is the lawlessness that is both tolerated and to accepted by those of you who are not speaking out against it through the policies you have enacted and your lack of public action.

To be clear, when you don’t speak up about an action that is wrong, you are sending a message that the behaviour is ok. As an example, unrelated to the park, do each of you speak-up against racism or homophobia? Then why not speak-up about the crimes you are aware of in the park?

The other day I asked the Victoria Police Department Intel Section to provide me with crime statistics for the neighbourhood. They ran a property crime and violent crime OFFENCES (not calls) for the area around Beacon Hill Park for the past 5 years (the park and 1-2 blocks) through their system. Did you know that in 2019 there were 57 violent crimes within a 2 block radius of Beacon Hill Park? By 2020 that increased to 76 and is now at 32 for the first quarter of this year. That is a 34% increase since you permitted 24/7 sheltering in the park in 2020 and if we remain on this trajectory it will be over 100%. This is just for violent offences.

As a citizen of Victoria, I am hurting; many others are as well. We are powerless to do anything beyond sharing our stories as this clearly sits in your hands. Regardless of your political beliefs or aspirations please work together as a team and lead us to a place of public safety.

I have worked hard over the past 25 years to manage my disease without medical support or becoming a burden on the medical or social systems. What happens next with my MS now sits with you.

Sincerely

Susan Simmons

Sent via email to :

To: Lisa Helps, Mayor, Victoria BC lhelps@victoria.ca
Councillor Marianne Alto, Victoria BC malto@victoria.ca
Councillor Stephen Andrew, Victoria BC stephen.andrew@victoria.ca
Councillor Sharmarke Dubow, Victoria BC sdubow@victoria.ca
Councillor Ben Isitt, Victoria BC bisitt@victoria.ca
Councillor Jeremy Loveday, Victoria BC jloveday@victoria.ca
Councillor Sarah Potts, Victoria BC spotts@victoria.ca
Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Victoria BC cthornton-joe@victoria.ca
Councillor Geoff Young, Victoria BC gyoung@victoria.ca

CC:
Honourable Premier of BC, john.horgan.mla@leg.bc.ca
Grace Lore, MLA, Victoria-Beacon Hill, grace.lore.MLA@leg.bc.ca
Laurel Collins, MP, Victoria, laurel.collins@parl.gc.ca

5 thoughts on “

  1. Great letter Susan. Sending you healing energy to help with your flare up from all this stress we are going through. AJ

  2. Susan, my heart beats for you. I also live beside the park. However, I am not dealing with MS, though my daughter is (thankfully not living here in Victoria at the moment!) and I know how stress and sleepless nights can do much damage.
    Please let me know if I can be of any assistance. My email is includes below.
    I have enormous respect for you, as a human, an athlete, and fellow resident of James Bay. You have taken pains to speak, so eloquently, and a lot of people who cannot or will not appreciate that immensely. You are often in our thoughts and conversations.
    Wishing you better health!!
    Peggy

  3. Susan, you are truly one of Victoria’s unsung heroes of the Pandemic. This reflects the way so many of my neighbours near the park and I feel. We are emotionally and physically exhausted. We all feel for anyone forced to live outside, during this crisis and in recent years. Many of us have volunteered or donated items to help support this population. But when we complain about regular instances in which we’ve been intimidated, threatened, assaulted, or have had property damaged or stolen by a segment of this population housed in Beacon Hill Park, our complaints are dismissed as NIMBY-ism. We are gaslighted, condescended to, ignored, mocked (i.e. called “Karens” a term that is both sexist, racist, ageist and incredibly offensive, and should disappear in reference anyone who doesn’t actually have this once popular and lovely name printed on their birth certificate). I haven’t slept through one night since the campers moved into Beacon Hill and items immediately began disappearing from my rental property. All we want is for our local, provincial and federal laws to apply to everyone and for those laws to be enforced. That’s not outrageous, it’s not NIMBY-ism, and it’s time our elected officials start respecting all the citizens of Victoria and not just one criminal segment of the population which has proven they don’t play well with others.
    The city and provincial PTB need to stop thinking in terms of short term bandaid solutions and start planning a feasible long term solution, which must include how to deal with people who have proven they are unsafe and unwilling to live within the rules that are expected in a civilized society.

  4. Well put, eloquent message that speaks from the heart and mind, and of course even your body is speaking: “enough!”

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