The homeless camp beneath Nanaimo’s Pearson bridge was dismantled tent by tent with heavy machinery Monday and onlookers who’ve watched it grow there for the past six months stood on the sidelines, waiting to see what happened next.
As many as 15 people called it home each night and threatened to hold out and fight to stay, but in the end, the workers charged with taking it down were glad the demolition didn’t bring a standoff.
As Emcon workers arrive to begin work on a slope below Nanaimo’s Pearson bridge Monday they didn’t know what to expect.
“No this is the first time we’ve done something like this,” says Emcon Foreman Steve Penney.
A tent city that’s held stakes there for six months stood in their way, and they were tasked with moving it before stabilizing the eroding slope.
Downtown residents have grown increasingly worried about this camp, says Nanaimo Resident Esther Holubowich.
“I’m nervous with it and I feel for the seniors that live in that area that can’t cross under here anymore,” she says.
But instead, workers got a huge surprise.
“Everyone had vacated they left everything behind and they were all gone,” says Penney. “Oh yeah it’s totally a relief we thought there was gonna be a big scene when we showed up.”
Homeless advocate Brunie Brunie says there should have been. But these homeless didn’t have the advocates the Victoria tent city has attracted.
“None of these people were protesters trying to make a point they were just people who had no lace stay some of them are addicted but a lot of them are really nice,” says the Nanaimo woman.
Where they’ve gone is unknown. But sleeping bags have now been laid out on the other side of the bridge, that is also under the control of the provincial Ministry of Transportation.
“And I’m just noticing they’re over here now. They weren’t there before,” says Holubowich.
So without delay, workers got to dismantling the tents with heavy machinery.
“Just putting it in a dumpster and hauling it away,” says Penney.
And when work crews are through an entire dumpster has been filled, and only dirt on the slope remains. How long it stays that way though has yet to be seen.