WATCH: A Parksville group that’s helping provide medical care and dry clothes to the homeless through a mobile RV has been told to cease and desist operating in a city park. The Manna Homeless Society has been operating the RV with volunteers for a year now, but Friday was notified they had to stop.
Rod Nall was soaked from living outside in a Parksville park as he walked up to Manna Homeless Society’s Mobile Care Unit Wednesday.
So the gift of the warm socks they offered him was huge.
“These are some very needed things,” said the 53-year-old homeless man.
“It’s priceless. Dry feet are warm feet and a warm body. Right at the moment, I’m hurtin,'”
Yet the RV that has been delivering TLC and medical care to Parksville’s homeless for the past year has been ordered to cease and desist operating at the Jensen Avenue Park. The group didn’t run the RV last week because of it.
“We had many people last week waiting for us,” said Manna’s Operations Manager Jerrold Paetkau.
“Looking for us and we had to say ‘I’m sorry, we are just not able to do it.”
The City of Parkville’s reasoning is that the RV is attracting the homeless to the park, leading to garbage and needles strewn everywhere.
“It was to stop the distribution of their items on city property,” said Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne.
“(That) is what it amounted to and that’s a direct result from we’ve received numerous, numerous complaints even before we were elected, numerous complaints.”
But Manna Homeless Society denies they are responsible for that and insists the city wants to push the homeless problem out of view.
“What I’m concerned about is them pushing us into a dark alley or some place that isn’t safe,” said Manna Homeless Society’s Robin Campbell.
“We’re only there for an hour and a half every week and they’re talking about bringing in Hazmat people twice a week and that’s not us,” said Paetkau.
“That’s not our stuff that they’re dealing with.”
So without a location for now, the mobile care unit has temporarily moved to the Salvation Army’s parking lot across the intersection from the Jensen Park, to offer the services that they say can change lives.
“We’re definitely saving lives,” said Campbell.
For Ron Nall, the brief visit at the RV means this will be his first night in a long time he’s had dry feet.
“That’s pretty cool hey,” said Nall.
So he and many others are hoping the RV finds a new location soon to keep doing this work.