WATCH: The homeless community in Nanaimo will face off against the city in court Monday over their continued occupation of publicly owned land. Their 6-week-old homeless camp has now grown to over 150 tents and neighbours are reporting an increase in crime since homeless took over the Front Street lot. Skye Ryan has the latest.
As homeless stake their claim to a Front Street lot in numbers that are growing by the day, they are unapologetic about what they admit has now turned into an eyesore in this busy downtown.
“We want them to see the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it,” said homeless resident Darcy Kory. “Cause before that, it’s hidden, behind the scenes, it’s in the woods.”
Downtown neighbours to the camp say it’s become unbearable.
“If the city isn’t able to do something I wonder what some of the local residents will at some point,” said Nanaimo resident Stephen Vaverik. “Because people are afraid to come to work. I’m afraid to park.”
Vaverik has worked nearby for eight years and says the dangerous feeling and tension in the air is driving people away from doing business here.
“You know it’s stolen goods non-stop and open drug use and open prostitution,” said Vaverik.
Monday, the city of Nanaimo is going to court asking a judge for an emergency injunction to remove the campers from the land they began to occupy on May 17th.
While the homeless say there are a lot of supportive people, dropping off donations fuelling homeless to stay here, they are aware of a loud contingent that wants them gone, including an online petition that just launched urging the city to get rid of the camp.
“How high is the level of frustration here?” CHEK News asked Stephen Vaverik. “It’s about as high as it can get before people start to take things into their own hands,” replied Vaverik.
Homeless man Chris Wagner said addictions and mental illness are the reason most of the people are living in the tent city. He believes having them all in its walls is safer for the public than forcing them back out on the streets.
“Just one day they roll in, grab everybody’s tent and now you got 100 or how many, there’s more than a hundred people in here now they’re all going to walk out on the street now what?” asked Wagner.
It’s a pressure cooker scenario set to be heard in a Nanaimo courtroom Monday, to decide what happens next for this tent city.