The Greater Victoria School District, the City of Victoria, the Victoria Police Department and leadership at South Park Family School have released a plan for a safe school restart on Sept. 10. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Greater Victoria School District, the City of Victoria, the Victoria Police Department and leadership at South Park Family School have released a plan for a safe school restart on Sept. 10. (Black Press Media file photo)

Ground sweeps, police presence part of back to school plan for Victoria elementary school near Beacon Hill Park

South Park Family School responds to concerns of parents and guardians

A Victoria elementary school that’s found itself situated across from a newly formed homeless encampment has released a list of safety commitments ahead of students’ return to class.

In an email sent to parents and guardians, senior leadership from South Park Family School – a Douglas Street school built in 1894 – say they’ve been working closely with the Victoria Police Department, the Greater Victoria School District and the City of Victoria to keep students and staff safe as they return for in-class education on Sept. 10.

Their efforts will include an everyday sweep of school grounds for garbage and drug paraphernalia and the trimming of trees, tall grass and shrubs to reduce areas of foliage that could be used as shelter or cover.

According to principal Carmen Gauvreau, VicPD have also made commitments to the school, including an increase in police presence in the area at the beginning of the school year.

READ ALSO: Petition demands Victoria ‘save Beacon Hill Park’

READ ALSO: Parents add to complaints about Duncan’s new mental health and addiction centre

“This may look like traffic enforcement for the back to school reminders, police on bikes around the school and park as well as police on foot in the school area and Michigan park,” Gauvreau writes. The police commitment comes after 15 of the school’s windows were smashed with rocks over a three-week period starting Aug. 3. No suspects have been identified in those incidents and VicPD are still looking for witnesses.

Additionally, a new sharps container was installed across the street from the school and two security officers will be on shift in the park from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day in September. In the morning hours, security guards will focus on walking routes and the area around Bridge Way.

Rich Fleming, chair of the South Park Family School Parent Advisory Council, said he’s waiting for “the rubber to hit the road” when it comes to commitments for safety.

“There’s a part of me fearing the moment a kid finds a needle or a window being broken while the kids are in school,” he said. “But the plan is 95 per cent there. The worry people have is will the city have those resources in place.”

Fleming noted that more resources are needed to solve homelessness and the opioid crisis, whether or not they exist in the vicinity of South Park School.

“This is just going to happen at another school or playground or business district,” he said. “I do want to make sure the school is safe for the kids, that the teachers are safe … but really the human in me, after being a papa bear, is actually wanting to see proper solutions.”

The volume of outdoor sheltering in Victoria skyrocketed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which decreased capacity at city shelters. While hundreds were moved to temporary shelters created by BC Housing, roughly 275 people are still living outside.

In July the City of Victoria was granted an injunction to enforce rules that would prohibit people from sheltering in environmentally and culturally sensitive areas of the park as designated by the parks bylaw.

On Thursday, Victoria council discussed a staff report with directions to adjust the Parks Regulation Bylaw so that sheltering is prohibited in community gardens and horticultural areas. Staff also suggest creating a buffer around schools where sheltering is prohibited.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Greater Victoria School DistrictHomelessHousing and Homelessnesssd61Victoria

Just Posted

Carey Newman resigned from the Greater Victoria School District’s Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee May 13, citing ‘a pattern of systemic racism.’ (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

More than 350 people had added their names in support by midday Friday

Police tape crosses Auchinachie Road at Somenos Road as police investigate an incident Friday at 11:30 a.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
UPDATE: North Cowichan neighbourhood, school evacuated after gardener digs up explosives

Students removed from Ecole Mount Prevost school in an ‘abundance of caution’

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Colin Dowler survived a grizzly bear attack July 29, 2019 on Mt. Dougie Dowler on the south coast of British Columbia and reports that his physical and mental rehabilitation is still ongoing. Photo courtesy Colin Dowler
‘Bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear’ doesn’t let 2019 attack bring him down

Campbell River’s Colin Dowler gets on with his life as his rehabilitation continues

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue manager Ken Neden, as he goes over the events of the Qualicum Falls river rescue on Dec. 12, 2020, for a United Kingdom television program “Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’. (Mandy Moraes photo)
UK TV show spreading news of daring Qualicum Falls river rescue across the world

Arrowsmith SAR trio share their accounts for ‘Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

RCMP outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre investigating a report of a suspicious person. The incident resulted in hold-and-secures at two nearby schools, but those emergency procedures have now been lifted. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man walking around Nanaimo marsh with airsoft rifle concerning to police and nearby schools

Two schools went into hold-and-secure procedures Thursday morning, May 13

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of pure fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

Most Read