An update now on the homeless camp that took over a Nanaimo man’s backyard Thursday.
Wayne Schmidt says his phone has been ringing off the hook with neighbours sharing similar nightmares since CHEK News shared his story.
Suiting up with gloves and armed with garbage bags, Wayne Schmidt’s cleaning up the mess left behind by the homeless campers who spontaneously took over his Nanaimo backyard Thursday. He was relieved to see they didn’t return overnight.
“First thing I did was look out here and think oh, no more overflow ha ha,” says the Nanaimo resident.
But he says all joking aside, it’s opened his eyes to what he’s now learned his neighbours have been facing for months.
“I just talked to a lady, she’s had the same problem around the corner. Apparently she’s had many thousands of dollars in damage,” says Schmidt.
Nanaimo’s latest homeless count this spring identified 174 homeless calling Nanaimo home. Officials say that number hasn’t changed much in recent years, but their visibility is very certainly up.
Squatting on people’s land and for the last six months a small tent city has held ground under the downtown Pearson’s bridge. So we asked its residents why they’re living out here.
“I’m sorry but unless you’re willing to provide housing and purposely place me somewhere and give me an alternative to my situation because I cannot help myself,” says Baron De Guire, a 24 year old former hairdresser who lives in a tent there. “I will not move.”
Residents like De Guire say there’s no where else for them to go, and Victoria’s tent city has proven to them they have a right to stick this out.
“I’m on provincial land,” says Eric Christiansen, “and I think the province is a little busy with Victoria now don’t you.”
Leaving residents like Schmidt, wondering what is going on.
“I think the city of Nanaimo needs to address this situation,” says Schmidt.
But homeless advocate and city councillor Gord Fuller says they’re working hard on it, but admittedly losing grip.
“We need more supportive housing and we need more rent subsidies towards supportive housing as well,” says Fuller.
A long term strategy and until that happens, the travelling tents that one neighbour faces today could well be on someone else’s property tomorrow.