Homeless camp moves into rural Cedar near Nanaimo

Homeless camp moves into rural Cedar near Nanaimo

WATCH: Frustrations are growing in rural Cedar, south of Nanaimo, where a homeless camp has been growing without apparent action from authorities for months.

Residents say its led to an increase in crime and fear in the community where people once left their doors unlocked.

Tammy Johnson’s favourite swimming hole along the Nanaimo River has become a place she is now too afraid to visit.

“Well we can’t go down there anymore. It’s so scary with the kids,” said the Cedar mother.

“There’s drugs everywhere. There’s garbage everywhere.”

A homeless camp put in stakes at the water’s edge in rural Cedar in June.

“Campers started arriving and one by one,” said Johnson.

“They just grew and grew and grew and took over and started cutting down trees.”

After three months, there are more than a dozen campers and tents occupied by homeless people. Locals say theft has gone up and the sense of safety in the small community diminished, with the appearance of suspicious looking people walking among properties at all hours.

“There’s been no reaction by any of the authorities at all,” said Cedar resident Paul Amann.

“And the community is getting very worried.”

CHEK News soon gets a sense of the threat this community has been feeling. Moments into the interview with Tammy Johnson across the river from the camp, one of its residents begins driving golf balls in our direction.

“Looks like he’s trying to get his aim right this time,” said Johnson

“Oh yeah there we go,” she added as the ball landed nearby. “And what is gonna happen when it floods if they don’t get it before then.”

The lot is owned by the Ministry of Transportation.

The Ministry of Transportation says a trespass notice was issued on the site Sept. 13, notifying people of the need to leave the area. Yet they haven’t. RCMP are responding to calls of theft and have recovered two stolen boats on the lot.

“At this point, there is no solution,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of Nanaimo RCMP.

“They are occupying the land they are trespassing and we are simply there to work with the Ministry of Transportation who controls the land.”

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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