WATCH: A new report shows the Nanaimo RCMP are dealing with more calls this year than ever before and as Kendall Hanson reports, many of the calls are coming from two specific locations.
Firefighters and police were called to a fire at a Nanaimo supportive housing complex at 250 Terminal Street on Monday night.
“It was crazy. People running all over the place. It was scary,” said Raelynn Frank, a witness who recorded the fire on her phone.
No one was hurt but one of the units was badly damaged and 20 residents have been displaced.
The complex and a similar one on Labieux Road opened when Nanaimo’s Discontent City closed four months ago.
Since then, calls to police have skyrocketed in the neighbourhoods where they are located.
At the Terminal site, they’ve increased by 66 per cent.
At the Labieux site, they’ve jumped by 250 percent.
Police say they aren’t surprised.
“We certainly expected that,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of Nanaimo RCMP. “When you drop a hundred or so people in any community in close quarters from a situation when they were of no fixed address before, we expect to see some social disorder, we expect to see some criminality.”
Neighbours agree and say there has been more problems.
“The immediate area is obviously going to be the hardest hit,” said Jeff Moore, a neighbouring property owner.
Nanaimo’s mayor blames much of the crime on mental health issues, which he says is a provincial responsibility.
“We have a ministry of mental health and addictions. I think they need to try harder to be quite blunt about it. The citizens in my community are losing their sympathy which I think we should all naturally have for those suffering from mental health or a drug addiction issue,” said Leonard Krog.
Investigators say last night’s fire was accidental.
“There are indications of hot plates and cooking in that unit itself as with many units and smoking as well
Meanwhile, Nanaimo RCMP says they’re prepared for the high call volume to continue.