Tim constructed a dome, to which people can attach tarps, to keep sun and rain out. Travis Paterson/News Staff

B.C. tent city camper arrested for taking coins from fountain

The man, who built a shelter at a Saanich park, says homeless people are unfairly targeted

A hand drill, a handsaw, a few dozen zap straps and an old plastic pipe pulled from a dumpster is all Tim needs to construct a dome out of sticks.

The former Calgary resident built one of the domes, about seven feet high and 12 feet wide, for people to use in Camp Namegans at Regina Park. The dome is an art installation but is also big enough to erect a tent inside, or just to tarp over and use as a sheltered outdoor space.

To build the dome, however, he needed batteries for his drill. And to buy the batteries, he needed money ($1.75), which he thought he found in a fountain at Uptown. That led to a conversation with a security guard, which led to Saanich Police officers visiting him at Regina Park to arrest him, and serve him with a charge of theft under $5,000 and a court date for Aug. 27.

“The security guard told me the money was for charity,” Tim said. “I told him I was trying to build an art space for the community here [at Camp Namegans] which was a mistake, if I didn’t say that I wouldn’t have been arrested.”

Tim lives a nomadic life and has a free spirit with a philosophy you won’t find in text books. He calls himself a “salvage bard,” restoring things people throw in dumpsters or leave on the side of the road, and selling them for money. He only recently came to Camp Namegans and has his next destination in mind. But he’s now unsure about travelling since as has to be in Victoria for an Aug. 27 court date.

“I’m not a criminal, I don’t have a criminal record,” Tim said. “Now I don’t know if I’ll be able to travel. I wasn’t going to stay in Victoria all summer, but if I miss that then I’ll be in worse trouble. This is really stupid.”

Saanich Police confirmed a 34-year-old male was arrested for taking money out of the fountain at Uptown on July 15 but can’t name the suspect.

“Patrol officers attended and Uptown security advised they were the lawful owners of the money which they donate to local charities,” said Sgt. Jereme Leslie. “It also said that Uptown Security gave him the opportunity to put the money back, however, he refused.”

In the meantime, Tim will travel up-Island but expects to be back next month to deal with his court date.

Another Camp Namegans resident, Ryan Williams, said he also feels targeted by the community because he lives in a tent city. He’s been in the area for 20 years – mostly in a house – but arrived at the tent city on May 1, when he was forcibly removed from a nearby home he was paying rent to live in, he said.

“There’s a stigma, people think we’re going to do something wrong,” Williams said. “People driving by honk at us and call us names. The other day I was talking to an officer and a woman came by to say other neighbours are putting their garbage out front of their houses hoping that we would pick it up and bring it here.

“Another day I was resting at Harriet and Boleskine letting my dog cool down and I was told by an officer to move on before (the city) got a call.”

Saanich Police, for their part, said they’re doing their job and that there has been an increase in reports from the area.

To date, Camp Namegans has been served a notice of unauthorized occupation by both the District of Saanich and the Ministry of Transportation, as Regina Park falls under both jurisdictions.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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