It’s almost time for homeless campers to leave Nanaimo’s tent city.
There is a court-ordered deadline of midnight Friday for them to leave but the province has asked the City of Nanaimo to delay any evictions until new modular housing is ready next month. The province said it wants to work with the city on a phased and managed approach to the closure of the camp.
However, on Thursday, Nanaimo bylaw officers and police were passing out hand-outs that show areas the camp’s residents can stay overnight.
But advocates are worried about what could happen to the homeless once they leave the tent city community.
“Isolating people on the streets. That’s how they die,” said Sophie Wendling, a homelessness advocate. “I guarantee you there are going to be some losses.”
BC Housing staff are also at Discontent City collecting information from people who want temporary housing.
Nanaimo’s mayor said the campers won’t be forced out but the community should start seeing a difference in the tent city’s size soon.
“It’s all about public safety,” said Mayor Bill McKay. “It’s all about the safety of the people going in and out of there, including our own staff, our fire and emergency services people and we’re going to slowly and pragmatically dismantle the camp.”
One of the tent city’s neighbours said the campers departure can’t come soon enough.
“The entire neighbourhood will be delighted,” said Michael Martin.
“We’ve been besieged. The activity at night is unbelievable.”
But he said the big question is where will the homeless go with no other housing in place.