Camping of any kind could soon be permanently banned year-round at a popular park in Campbell River.
Campbell River city councillors on Monday voted in favour of having staff make changes to an existing bylaw that would effectively ban camping and overnight sheltering at Nunns Creek Park year-round. It would also ban camping at 1299 Homewood Rd.
Council’s decision on Monday comes less than three months after they approved the existing bylaw prohibiting camping at Nunns Creek Park — but granted an exemption for a section of the park on Homewood Road — from April 1 to Sept. 30.
Nunns Creek Park has seen its fair share of homeless campers and vandalism in recent years.
In 2021, the park’s public washrooms had to be closed after they were heavily damaged due to vandalism and earlier this year the city moved out homeless campers at the request of festival organizers, who had told councillors they would have to cancel this year’s event if the park wasn’t cleared out.
During Monday’s meeting Coun. Ron Kerr, who proposed the motion, said that he is pleased with the progress of the park so far and wants to see it continue.
“I believe the city has taken back the park and their facilities and it is a first step to making this area a lot safer for the public,” he said, adding. “I do think that by doing the initial bylaw it has made a difference and I would like to see it continue year-round.”
Council’s step towards banning year-round camping at the park comes as cleanup costs associated with encampments at city parks, mainly Nunns Creek Park, have climbed by nearly 50 per cent this year.
According to a recent staff report, the city has spent $45,000 on camp cleanups and repairs associated with the camps between January and June 30 of this year, which is 47 per cent more than they spent on repairs and cleanups for all of 2021.
The report notes that the city is spending an average of $4,900 a month on camp cleanups and repairs while last year, the average monthly cleanup cost was $2,600.
“Increases in 2022 are attributed to 1.5 times greater labour to undertake the work and almost double the amount of waste being transported to the regional landfill,” the report states.
Although the city doesn’t specifically track where the cleanups and repairs were made, according to the report, the vast majority are at Nunns Creek Park.
As a result of council’s decision, staff are now required to bring forward a proposed amended bylaw — which council would vote on — that reflects council’s desire to ban overnight sheltering or camping year-round at the park.