Tents stand amongst the trees in Beacon Hill Park. The City of Victoria is inviting anyone interested in participating in its court petition asking whether camping in the park is legal, under the terms of an 1882 trust, to submit a statement by May 7. (Black Press Media file photo)

Tents stand amongst the trees in Beacon Hill Park. The City of Victoria is inviting anyone interested in participating in its court petition asking whether camping in the park is legal, under the terms of an 1882 trust, to submit a statement by May 7. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria invites public input on Beacon Hill Park sheltering court inquiry

City offers parties with an interest in the outcome to be part of legal proceeding

In the midst of pursuing a definitive legal opinion from the courts on the use of Beacon Hill Park for camping, the City of Victoria is asking the public to step forward if they have an interest in the court petition.

The park has been held in trust by the city since 1882 and the resulting Trustee Act has been cited at various times over the decades as preventing certain activities from happening within the park boundaries, including commercial operations.

The city is seeking the opinion, advice, or direction of the B.C. Supreme Court on the question, “Can the land known as Beacon Hill Park, held in trust by the City of Victoria, be used by persons experiencing homelessness for temporary sheltering?”

RELATED STORY: Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

The city wants to know whether the park, under the terms of the trust, should be exempt from a 2009 Court of Appeal ruling stating that temporary shelters in parks are permissible when there is no “practicable” shelter available elsewhere.

During the pandemic, the city has paused its bylaw permitting camping in Beacon Hill Park from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., but it is preparing to return to those rules May 1 given the additional temporary housing made available to sheltering individuals.

Anyone interested in participating in the current proceeding are asked to state in a letter or email the nature of their interest, and their position on the question posed by the city to the court.

Referencing Beacon Hill Park Trust, letters can be delivered to the legislative services department at city hall, or emailed to legislativeservices@victoria.ca. Requests for a copy of the city’s petition materials can be made to the department.

Letters or emails expressing interest in the matter must be received by the city by May 7.

don.descoteau@blackpress.ca

City of VictoriaHomelessness