Brydon Park was among the six parks selected by Saanich staff for a proposed outdoor shelter project that was voted down by council on Oct. 5. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Brydon Park was among the six parks selected by Saanich staff for a proposed outdoor shelter project that was voted down by council on Oct. 5. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich council votes against adding shelters to parks for socializing amid pandemic, adverse weather

High costs, impacts on other projects, safety among concerns raised

Saanich residents will have to get creative when heading outdoors for pandemic-friendly socializing this fall, as council has voted against adding shelters and covered areas to parks.

On Oct. 5, five of Saanich’s nine councillors voted against the concept for safe outdoor socializing amid the COVID-19 pandemic after reviewing a staff report that highlighted high costs and police disapproval.

At the request of Coun. Zac de Vries in mid-September, council directed staff to report back with options for the installation of up to six permanent or temporary shelters to allow park use to extend into the rainy season. He’d heard from residents that there was a need for covered areas in municipal parks to permit safe socializing despite adverse weather.

In the report, Saanich staff recommended six parks for the proposed shelters: Rutledge Park, Rudd Park, Weatherby Park, Horner Park, Hampton Park and Brydon Park. However, staff also explained that the total cost for adding six structures would be between $120,000 and $180,000 and as the project had not been included in the 2020 budgeting process, there were no allotted funds. Staff also pointed out that to complete the shelters in time for the 2020 fall and winter season, four other parks projects would be delayed and some 2021 projects could also be impacted.

Saanich police also raised concerns about the shelters being added to parks – specifically, those where temporary overnight sheltering is permitted.

“There are concerns that public safety will be negatively impacted from issues related to homelessness, drug use, youths drinking, mischief and other social disorders,” Chief Const. Scott Greenwrote in a letter to the district.

When the motion to add shelters to the six parks failed, de Vries attempted a second motion to add shelters to just three of the parks but council again voted it down.

Mayor Fred Haynes, who opposed the project, noted that he supports adding shelters to parks, but not at this time. He emphasized that the motion was not shut down completely. After a “robust” discussion, council agreed to send the matter back to staff for a “rethink” and reassess during the 2021 budgeting process.

It was “rather unfortunate” to see the shelter initiative be shelved, de Vries said. He felt the costs were minor and that covered areas in parks would have been “well worth it.”

There was “lots of interest” from the community, de Vries noted, adding that of the few concerns raised, most were based on what he called an “incomplete understanding of homelessness.”


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of Saanich

Just Posted

Painters Jim Tulip, Doug Mackenzie and Gary Henslowe were painting the exterior of the Duncan Butcher Shop and Apple Press printing shop, located between the Trans Canada Highway and Whistler Street, on Oct. 8 as part of neighbourhood painting project. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan’s Whistler Street sees a fresh lick of paint in opioid battle

Group wants to help clean up community, one street at a time

Maureen Cue, owner of Disguise the Limit costume shop, models – maybe the most obvious – pandemic costume. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Vancouver Island costume expert showcases pandemic-safe Halloween looks

Maureen Cue models the best masked Halloween costumes

Thaddeus Lenover kisses his mushroom picking partner Teagan Evans on the cheek after a rainy day out in the woods harvesting wild mushrooms. (Nora O'Malley photo)
West Coast mushroom pickers say it’s less busy this year

COVID-19 reduces interest in what has otherwise been a good season

(pixabay photo)
Bakker: Feeling alone after a miscarriage

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month

Dylan Hillis preparing collagen samples from ancient dog bones at the UBC musuem of Anthropology. Photo: Eric Guiry
Ancient ‘woolly dog’ ate mostly fish, new University of Victoria study finds

Study gives researchers better understanding of human-dog relationships on Tsehaht First Nation

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Visitors stroll through Goldstream Provincial Park on a calm, crisp Sunday. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Visitors flock to Goldstream Provincial Park for 2020 salmon run

‘I wanted to come here before I move back to Australia,’ says visitor

File Photo
Planned power outage in Port Alice Oct. 27

BC Hydro crews to work from midnight to 4 a.m. replacing substation equipment

Greg Duerksen and his family. (gofundme photo)
Firefighter prepares for stem cell transplant

Friends rally to help raise funds for Duerksen family

Legendary Vancouver-based blues and jazz guitarist and vocalist Jim Byrnes will perform live at the Tidemark Theatre in a concert that will also be streamed. Contributed photo
Legendary blues musician and actor Jim Byrnes hits the Island

Playing Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre for a hybrid live/online show

Conservation officers hope the public can provide information about who shot and left a bull and cow Roosevelt elk near Spruston Road, south of Nanaimo. (Facebook photo)
Pair of Roosevelt elk shot and left in woods south of Nanaimo

Conservation officers hope public can help find who killed the animals near Spruston Road

Most Read