Leanne Closson, a park manager with the City of Duncan, leads a clean-up crew at Charles Hoey Park on April 27. The workers plan to place new sods in the section of the park where the homeless camp was raided by police and city bylaw officers last week. (Robert Barron photo)

Park protest, aftermath cost Duncan $45,000

Legal fees alone cost the City more than $25,000

More than $45,000 was spent by the City of Duncan in dealing with the tent city homelessness protest in Charles Hoey Park in late March and into April.

“A good chunk of that cost was legal costs for the injunction,” noted Duncan mayor Phil Kent on Friday.

Legal and court filing fees totalled $25,073.58 according to a staff report presented to council by fincance director Talitha Soldera at their July 4 committee of the whole meeting.

Staff costs and materials for remediation after the fact totalled close to $8,500 while the rest went to staff costs and to security services during the protest.

“We do have reserves to tap into so that’s what we’ve done to keep the budget balanced,” Kent said.

The funds came from the City’s Police Operating Reserve, something they hope not to draw on for the same reason down the road.

“We try not to encumber those things too often,” Kent said.

The mayor said the incident prompted council to tighten their bylaws for camping in city parks, particularly the ones with the highest user rates.

“We have ammended our bylaws further,” he confirmed. “Charles Hoey Park now is not allowed any camping.” He believes Centannial Park may now have similar restrictions.

“We’ve shared that bylaw with adjacent municipalities as well and I understand that North Cowichan has also adopted similar policies around camping in parks,” Kent said.

On March 31 protesters set up their tents in Charles Hoey Park in downtown Duncan. Once it became apparent to council the protesters intended to remain in the park indefinitely despite requests by officials to leave, the City took legal action to remove them.

Once the campers were removed under the watchful eye of RCMP, public works crews set to work cleaning up the mess that was left behind and re-sodding the area.

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