The majority of Discontent City occupants continue to defy a court-imposed fire safety order, says Nanaimo’s fire chief. (News Bulletin file)

City plans to take tent city back to court over fire safety order

Fire chief says Discontent City occupants continuing to defy court-imposed order

Discontent City occupants are still refusing to comply with a fire safety order issued by the Supreme Court of B.C., so the City of Nanaimo plans to go back to court.

The provincial fire safety order, issued on July 18, lays out numerous conditions that must be met by Discontent City occupants. Conditions include ensuring all tents are at least one metre apart, storing propane tanks properly, removing all open flame lighting and heating from all tents, removing all tarps placed on all structures and removing all combustible materials.

Karen Fry, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief and city director of public safety, told the News Bulletin on Monday morning that Discontent City occupants are still failing to meet a number of the requirements. She said because of Discontent City’s disobedience, the city is preparing to head back to court to obtain an enforcement order.

“We are waiting to hear back from our legal but I think there are only certain dates that are made available by the courts,” she said. “I am not sure if it will be this week or in the coming weeks.”

Jarrett Plonka, one of the city’s attorneys, confirmed by e-mail that the city is seeking an enforcement order, but declined to comment any further on the matter.

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Should a fire break out on the property, Fry said the advocates and organizers would likely be held responsible.

There have been regular meetings with Discontent City’s own safety committee, who continue to disregard the fire safety order imposed by the court, according to Fry, who said the city will not be providing tarps.

“It’s not the city’s responsibility to supply trespassers with acceptable camping supplies. We’ve provided them options and we have provided it to B.C. Housing and we are working with B.C. Housing for areas where they can get shelter,” she said, adding that the department doesn’t supply tarps to anyone.

Fry said it is important to remember that the order is a provincial fire safety order, not a city-issued order. She said the city has an obligation to follow the orders of the provincial fire commissioner and mitigate the fire safety risks posed by Discontent City.

“I have a responsibility for this community and to the province to act and protect the community,” Fry said.

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nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

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