A Nanaimo man woke to a shocking scene in his backyard Thursday. Homeless people had moved in overnight and set up a camp.
The controversial issue cropping up in communities across Vancouver island coming home to roost right on his south Nanaimo property.
Wayne Schmidt couldn’t believe his eyes when he woke up this morning.
“I look out my back window and there’s a camp in my backyard so in disbelief I looked there for a little bit and tried to process what’s going on then phoned the police,” says the Pine Street resident.
A number of homeless people had moved in with their shopping carts and tents overnight, laying claim to his backyard that resembles an empty lot.
“And I wake up and look out there and go whoa holy cow,” he says.
When asked to move, he says they refused.
“What do you do? I don’t know. So I can’t leave the property. I’m just sort of who are these people it’s pretty brazen.”
So his neighbour asked them again while waiting for police, who were held up on other calls.
“That is private property it’s not fine,” yells his neighbour to the campers still inside the tent.
“Look what’s happened in Victoria. Is this the same scenario? It ain’t happening,” says Schmidt. “And are other people having this problem? Does the city need to deal with homeless?”
Nanaimo City bylaws says year to date there have been 15 calls about squatters in residential neighbourhoods and they are quickly addressed and people are told to move on.
A group of tents under Nanaimo’s Pearson Bridge is under the Ministry of Transportation so bylaw enforcement officers can’t move it.
And at Schmidt’s the situation’s turned volatile. Whoever’s inside the tent threatening the neighbour who’s asking them to leave.
“My neighbour was talking to him and the guy screamed out of the tent leave us alone or I’m gonna go bash your head in,” says Schmidt to a 911 emergency dispatcher.
So there’s relief when about 4 hours after his first call, RCMP arrive and order the campers to move out.
Where they’ve gone though RCMP say could well be someone else’s property.