Seaspan employees, the City of Nanaimo and RCMP moved fencing back to the original perimeter after Nanaimo’s tent city residents expanded part of the camp into neighbouring property owned by Seaspan.
The fence was relocated several metres into property owned by Seaspan on Wednesday night, the same day residents said their numbers were swelling past 300 people.
On Thursday, Seaspan workers moved the fencing back to its original position. The company said it needs the space to buffer the camp from its rail barge operations.
The City of Nanaimo said the campers co-operated with assistance from bylaw officers and RCMP.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue has issued a new provincial fire safety order for Discontent City at 1 Port Drive. The first order was issued on July 18.
The city said its lawyers have updated the courts on the increased fire and public safety risks on the site, including propane tanks, empty and full gasoline cans, tarps, wood, upholstered furniture and mattresses, trash and other flammable materials in and around tents. According to the city, the fire risks and the number of tents have increased since Aug. 13 when a BC Supreme Court judge denied a request for a fire safety enforcement order.
The city said due to the increased number of tents, access to the site has been impacted.
“The growing number of tents on the site, continuing problems with getting residents there to comply with our fire safety order and the presence of propane tanks and other fuels is a fire and public safety hazard for people on the site and for residents, businesses and industrial operations nearby,” Karen Fry, fire chief and interim director of public safety for City of Nanaimo said in a release.
“We have already seen one serious injury at the site from an explosion in a tent. We will continue to raise awareness of public safety risks within the camp and the broader community.”
Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay has reached out to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson for immediate assistance.
“The city will be asking the province to recognize that we are facing a serious public safety crisis and to provide us with the help we need, and we need that help now,” Mayor Bill McKay said.