City of Nanaimo is taking action at tent city says acting mayor


WATCH: Nanaimo’s city council says it’s taking steps to remove its downtown tent city. That news comes despite the number of tents and the number of people increasing. The city ordered those at the camp to leave two weeks ago. Kendall Hanson has the latest.

It’s been two weeks since Nanaimo City Council ordered those staying at this downtown tent city to move on. But instead of shrinking the camp has only grown. The number of tents now near 75 with the number of people staying here estimated at 100.

“It’s grown immensely,” said Darcy Kory, one of the homeless staying there since it began. “We get two or three newcomers pretty much daily now.”

Some in the community are worried the longer the camp is here the more difficult it will be to disband but Nanaimo city council says despite appearances, for the average passerby enforcement is happening.

“There has been ticketing,” said Ian Thorpe, Nanaimo’s Acting Mayor. “There has been a small number of arrests and there has been a gradual escalation in enforcement. We’ve also involved the Office of the Fire Commissioner because one of our real concerns is safety for our citizens.”

Those at the camp say they’ve been ticketed for jaywalking and they have been feeling the heat from law enforcement.

“Yeah, we do. We do feel it,” said Kory. “But we’re also getting an exorbitant amount of positive response from the public with the donations.”

Kory says those staying here find an increased sense of safety being with others.

“They’re from here. They’ve been here a long time. They know each other. It’s the camaraderie, the collectiveness,” said Kory.

But no one says tent cities are a long-term solution to the housing crisis.

“I think it may be a reprieve in their minds but I think we also have to balance that against the needs of the rest of the community,” said Thorpe. “Are they being fair by trespassing on city land next to commercial businesses, next to residences and causing apparently a degree of disturbance?”

Thorpe says council realizes there needs to be more low-cost social housing and it’s actively identifying city properties where it could be built.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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