RCMP seeking porta-potty arsonist after four separate fires set in one day

A fire sparked in a porta-potty at the intersection of Bastion and Skinner.

Nanaimo RCMP is trying to catch a porta-potty arsonist after several in the southern area of the city were deliberately set on fire.

The acts of suspected arson took place on Sunday, January 16, within the span of just over four hours.

Police say that porta-potties were burned in the 800-block of Old Victoria Road, 100-block of Wharf Street, at the intersection of Bastion and Skinner and at the intersection of Terminal Avenue and Victoria Crescent.

Fire crews were busy over the duration of the porta-potty arsons, however, authorities managed to act quickly and extinguish some of the fires before all the units were completely destroyed.

Investigators say that they have identified several people of interest, however, no direct witnesses have come forward to date and no arrests have been made.

“It appears that several were most likely started by one person and that a vehicle or other means of transport was used,” said Constable Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.

Anyone with information on any of these incidents is being asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345.

The head of the Victoria Cresent Association said he was expecting the fires after hearing complaints about some of them.

“We knew it was only going to be a matter of time before the porta-potties were going to be set on fire,” said Kevan Shaw, President of the Victoria Cresent Association.

Shaw says fire activity and drug use near the porta-potties suggested the porta-potties would also get damaged.

This past summer a rash of fires in Nanaimo’s downtown had business owners on edge.

Shaw said the porta-potty on Terminal Avenue was replaced two days after a fire destroyed it on the 16th but was then torched again that night.

“They’re being used for illegal means for criminal means and at times like this here being set on fire and when you’ve got two porta-potties fires in two or three days that’s just ridiculous.”

At the nearby 19+ Cannabis Store, they’ve had several recent fires in front of their store they say were set by loitering transient people and it’s impacting their business.

“Absolutely. 100 per cent,” said Daniel Clouda, the Store’s Manager. “It’s keeping people from coming up to our store and into our store. Keeping people from coming down the block. Everyone is feeling the pressure of it. The entire block has been infected by this and everyone is feeling the pressure of it.”

Shaw says change is needed.

“We need mandatory treatment for the real hard offenders and we need jail time to keep people inside for their good as well as our good,” said Shaw.

A plea the Victoria Cresent Association wants the government to hear.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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