Neighbours call for more action before Millstone River sees more encampments

Neighbours call for more action before Millstone River sees more encampments

Neighbours are calling for a better cleanup along the banks of the Millstone River after the City of Nanaimo cleaned up multiple encampments.

They say the multi-day cleanup wasn’t finished, and other measures are needed to protect the ecologically sensitive area.

Barsby Park neighbour Frank Seier showed CHEK News Tuesday where garbage has spilled into the fish-bearing Millstone River, despite a recent encampments cleanup by the city.

“It’s a big debris pile that came down with a landslide over the weekend,” said Seier.

Seier says erosion on the river’s banks caused by encampments has caused two slides and appears poised to take down trees.

They’re demanding government’s once again take action by removing the remaining garbage.

“That something be done to rehabilitate all the destruction of vegetation so that may involve hydro-seeding the bank to stabilize it,” said Seier.

Neighbours say unless there’s some sort of prevention, it’s just a matter of time before another encampment arrives here again.

“Because when the rains happen, the authorities are incapable of coming into the ravine to deal with it, either to address the damage or to remove the campers, because the terrain is too slippery for them,” said Seier.

“And they’ve been prohibited from WorkSafe BC from coming in the fall and the campers know that they know precisely when they are untouchable.”

The neighbours say it’s difficult getting all three levels of government that have some jurisdiction involved.

“It’s proved to be an obstacle that’s prevented a permanent solution and that has happened repeatedly over the past four years and so it’s the easiest thing to do. Clean the mess out, but that’s only treating the symptom. It’s not solving the problem,” said Karen Kuwica, president of the Newcastle Community Association.

Nanaimo’s mayor says the recent multi-day cleanup, the first at the site since October, is expected to cost once all the bills are in between $25,000 to $30,000.

“Fencing is not a realistic proposition for this site,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.

“You could put fencing along the top. It might help, but it’s not going to completely solve the issue. The solution to this, as it is for every community in this province, is to have appropriate housing or care facilities, whatever is needed.”

Neighbours say they’re growing increasingly frustrated as crucial time slips by to protect this ecologically sensitive area.

In a statement the Ministry of Transportation said it continues to work with the city “to find solutions to assist in the cleanup of the encampment.”

It also says it’s building three additional developments, which will provide a total of 141 supportive homes. Complex care housing will also be coming to Nanaimo, offering services to 30 people who require additional supports to break the cycle of homelessness.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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