Nanaimo neighbours remove nearby encampment

WatchSouth Wellington neighbours say they were spurred to action because of a spike in crime in the area

A group of neighbours near Nanaimo have taken matters into their own hands to push out some unwanted people from living in a nearby encampment.

They say they were prompted by increasing crime in their small community of South Wellington.

“We’ve been hit hard, especially in the last two years,” said Tammy Bodle, a neighbour.

“Mainly with losing fuel and our fences being cut. It’s been an ongoing problem.”

“We’ve seen a major influx in B and E’s, vehicle theft, mailboxes broken in and mail stolen, assaults,” said Tara Wood, another neighbour.

Saturday, after giving notice earlier this week, 50 neighbours showed up to remove the encampment, where up to 7 had been staying illegally, and clean up.

They pulled trailers out of the crown land and put rocks in to prevent them from going in again. They cleaned up several loads of garbage but many items remain.

Neighbours say they recognize some as being stolen and suspect much of it is.

Police arrived after being called, took one person away in handcuffs, and spent several hours ensuring peace while keeping watch.

One couple that remains says they have no place for their trailer to go and they’re being unfairly punished.

“I feel angry and violated and completely lost,” said Karina Poirier.

“I feel this is completely unjust towards me and my husband. We did absolutely nothing wrong.”

“They physically threatened to harm both of us if we didn’t cooperate and the RCMP stood right there,” said Shane Rietzel.

But the neighbours say the publicly-owned crown land is a mess and they want everyone to move on to proper living arrangements.

“I don’t believe this was a homeless issue in this area. This was just a haven for people to come and hideout, do their drugs, sell their stolen goods,” said Bodle.

The neighbours say they will return to remove much of what is left, but first, they’re going to ask the Regional District to waive the cost of dumping it at the landfill.

This comes at a time where it’s becoming more difficult to live without housing. Last month the City of Nanaimo announced it was stepping up enforcement of bylaws limited camping on road right-of-ways.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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