Topaz Park Dynamics and Solutions

As the COVID 19 Pandemic unfolded in Victoria, concern was raised about the conditions for the homeless in our City, particularly for those displaced from shelters and folks sleeping in the Pandora area. Originally 3 sites including Topaz, Royal Athletic Park and Beacon Hill were suggested. Then it was pared down to Topaz plus some hotel rooms. How did this happen?

Fast forward and Topaz is the only designated park for an outdoor homeless shelter/encampment. It has been operating past capacity (confirmed by Vic Fire Dept) and hotel rooms are not available yet. The efforts to rally volunteers and staff to support the camp have been a work in progress. Vic PD confirms that crime has spiked significantly near Topaz and many have felt unsafe. The shared use of the park has been critical when outdoor spaces are limited in and around Hillside-Quadra. The long term health and planned improvements to the park are on hold.

Homelessness is a shared responsibility of our neighbourhood, municipality, region, province and country. Hillside-Quadra is doing more than its share. How widespread, however are these efforts, across the City and region? If we look at homelessness crisis during the COVID 19 pandemic with an equity lens, what conclusions would we reach? Other neighbourhoods and municipalities are not doing enough to share the burden and the homeless are not being adequately/safely served. Neighbourhoods in northern Victoria continue to tackle regional social issues while having little access to parks, recreation and other amenities close to home.

A major announcement was made (see below) by the Province, April 25 that announced that hotel rooms had been found and a transition would take place, seeing Topaz campers make the move or relocate elsewhere. This gradual transition will take place up to and including May 9 with placements based on the assessment of each individual. The success of this plan depends on the range of accessible and responsive resources and staffing that many people who have been recently homeless needs.

What will the coming weeks look like for this transition, our neighbourhoods and within the park itself. Let's share information, ask our questions and plan for the future in this COVID 19 pandemic and beyond.

Coping through Conversation 2 : Topaz Park Transitions and Next Steps Event

Wed, April 29 6:30pm-8:30pm:  Free online event.  Register here 

New Developments

Announcement of Plan for Hotel Options and Closure of Topaz Park Outdoor Shelter by May 9

See article here

Previous Topaz Updates

Community Coping Through Conversation: Q+A Session: #1 (Update re: Topaz Park with Chief Del Manak , Janine Theobald and Don Evans)

Click here for notes