WATCH: Days after the Municipality of Saanich earmarked $700,000 to manage the Regina Park tent city, Nanaimo’s city council is still trying to determine how much it needs to comply with orders by Island Health to improve safety at the tent city in that community. Last week, Island Health made a number of orders and at first, the city did not want to comply. But as Kendall Hanson reports there has been a move towards compliance.
A passerby may not notice a change in the way Nanaimo’s tent city now looks, but those staying here certainly do.
Last night the city arranged for three more portable toilets to arrive, which brought the total to five.
“Yes I noticed that,” said David Touchie, one of the homeless staying at the tent city.
“It was pretty cool to see because there are so many of us.”
It was the first sign the city is trying to comply with orders issued by the region’s medical health officer. They were first issued late last week.
“There’s a point in time where we had to look at this and say ‘hey, there’s enough of a health hazard risk here both in terms of lack of access to water, lack of sanitation’ and how do we need to intervene?” says the region’s medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback.
Hasselback said it wasn’t an option to simply order an evacuation of the site as the mayor and council initially asked.
“How are we protecting the health and well-being of those individuals if we ask them to leave that site and we are struggling with the lack of access to appropriate housing options, which would protect their well-being if they left the site at this time?” asked Hasselback.
Hasselback says the most urgent need is for water, something that was missing during a recent visit.
“So there was no water on site and for 200 people, that’s actually a scary situation, as we go into a dry heat spell as well,” Hasselback said.
Environment Canada is calling for sun for the next week with daytime highs up to 30 degrees.
“So actually having water that can be consumed as well as for cooling is a critical and probably the highest priority issue,” said Hasselback.
Nanaimo City Council has asked it’s legal counsel about compliance with the medical health officer’s remaining orders.
But as of now, the city has until 5 p.m. Thursday to comply.