The Hells Angels are getting ready to celebrate.
Party rental trucks were at the club’s Nanaimo headquarters on Thursday. Tents and porta-potties are in place and new fencing is going up in preparations for what will be the largest Hells Angels event in Nanaimo in years.
“We haven’t seen this many Hells Angels members in our city since they used to have an event called Angels Acres on a property south of town,” said Const. Gary O’Brien with Nanaimo RCMP. “That has since shut down since the property sold.”
Up to 300 full patch members and affiliated biker gang members are expected to arrive in Nanaimo this weekend.
Police including BC’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit will be watching closely both to deter criminal activity and ensure public safety.
“It’s part of a sanctioned event which is happening in Nanaimo,” said O’Brien. “It’s the 35th anniversary of the formation of the Nanaimo chapter, Vancouver chapter, White Rock and East End.”
The unofficial clubhouse on Victoria Road is right beside the former official clubhouse. It was seized under B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Act in 2007.
The Hells Angels are appealing that seizure in BC Supreme Court.
Those in the city today have mixed views about Nanaimo hosting such a large biker gang gathering.
“I don’t welcome them here but there’s nothing you can do about them,” said Gary, a Nanaimo resident who didn’t want to give his last name. “I expect like in the past years they’ll behave themselves and the cops will keep a good watch on them but next year they can find somewhere else to go.”
“I’ve got no objection really at the moment,” said Ann Lester, also a Nanaimo resident. “If they’re here I’m sure they’ll manage themselves and everything should be fine I hope.”
“Good for the community. I’m sure they’ll go to the stores and bring up economy too right and they’re going to be spending lots so I think it will be good,” said Jason Mathewson, who’s visiting from Alberta.
Police say people should expect seeing gang members wearing their colours on Nanaimo’s streets.
“They should know that we are aware this event is taking place,” said O’Brien. “We’re not expecting any issues whatsoever and we have sufficient manpower in place in the event something does happen.”
It should be a busy weekend. The Hells Angels gathering is happening at the same time as Nanaimo’s famous bathtub festival.