The Town of View Royal council has postponed until the new year discussions around a parks bylaw amendment that would formalize restrictions on where overnight sheltering is able to take place in the community.
Council voted 4-3 on Dec. 13 to table an adoption vote until the next regular council meeting in January. The bylaw amendment passed first, second, and third reading over the summer with the town’s previous council, but that third reading was repealed by the current council on Dec. 6 and read again with new amendments that same day.
The amendments made on Dec. 6 added Portage Inlet Linear Park to the list of parks in the town where camping would be prohibited, leaving View Royal Park as the only area in town where it would be allowed, subject to restrictions. But those restrictions proved to complicate the bylaw, and ultimately led council to table discussions so staff would have more time to study it.
At the heart of the complication is a restriction in the bylaw which would prohibit camping within 100 metres of a playground, tennis court, sports field or dug out; a footpath or road within a park; washrooms, picnic shelters, or gazebos; a horticultural display or community garden; a beach or an environmentally sensitive area.
In View Royal Park, staff determined there is no area further than 100 metres from any of the listed amenities, effectively banning overnight camping everywhere in the municipality and meaning it would not be in compliance with the precedent set by the B.C. Supreme Court when it ruled as unconstitutional blanket bans on unhoused people camping on public property.
Staff will now further study the geography of View Royal Park and return to council with recommendations on what distance restriction should be included in the bylaw, and look into the possibility of adding a restriction on camping within a certain distance of a park boundary.