Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools has had a chance to assess the damage to Rutherford Elementary School after squatters from Alliance Against Displacement and Discontent City broke in on Friday before being arrested Saturday. Photo courtesy Steve Rae

Costs to clean up Schoolhouse Squat will impact education, says school board

School board chairman says doors and roof at Rutherford need to be repaired

Cleaning up after the Schoolhouse Squat will be costly for a school district that could have used the money elsewhere.

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools has had a chance to assess the damage to Rutherford Elementary School after squatters from Alliance Against Displacement and Discontent City broke in on Friday before being arrested Saturday.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said he was “absolutely mortified” with what he saw inside the school.

“They destroyed all the doors downstairs on the first level and barricaded them. They had put holes in the roof to hang their banners in the flashing and that’s a big concern because it’s rainy season; we’re going to have to repair that quickly,” he said.

Rae said it appeared the squatters “were planning on being there for the long haul” with a kitchen set up, cases of pasta, peanut butter, fruit, coffee, as well as “cases of unused needles,” other drug paraphernalia and naloxone kits. A machete and knives were also found.

Rae said he believes $100,000 is a conservative estimate of the damage, as the district will need to repair doors and the roof and says it will hire a hazmat team and additional security at schools.

“All of this is a cost and all of this is taking away from where it was designed, where taxpayers expect we spend it, and that’s on the education of our kids and that’s the real crime here,” Rae said. “Of course we’re empathetic toward the people who are struggling with homelessness and addictions, but this is not the way to go about it.”

Laura Riach of Alliance Against Displacement said it was the RCMP who broke down the doors and said she didn’t witness anyone inside ripping children’s artwork off the walls.

“On a simple, logical level, if we were trying to convert a building into a home for 300 people, why would we destroy the inside of it?” she asked.

Isabel Krupp, also from Alliance Against Displacement, said squatters didn’t do damage to the building because it was intended to be a home.

“We were there to take care of it and to put that building to use after it was abandoned by the government, by the state,” she said.

RELATED: RCMP arrest 26 squatters at Nanaimo elementary school

RELATED: Discontent City campers break into empty elementary for ‘Schoolhouse Squat’

RELATED: Nanaimo’s Soldiers of Odin council candidate opposes school sit-in

Amber McGrath, Discontent City supporter, said yesterday she didn’t know yet if tent city residents and supporters would attempt to squat at another school or empty building.

A press release from Alliance Against Displacement announcing the Schoolhouse Squat noted that “judges have found that governments have an obligation to the public good that private landowners do not. Homeless people have stopped government injunction applications by successfully claiming that public property owners have a special responsibility to the public good.”

RCMP arrested 26 squatters for break-and-enter and mischief on Saturday at Rutherford school.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district hires new secretary-treasurer

Mark Walsh to join Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools effective April 15

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Adaptation, not blame, required in COVID-19 crisis

Analysis must be about finding out what happened and prevent it happening again, says letter writer

RCMP investigate after dog owner leaves following incident involving pooch, hiker on Notch Hill

Victim reported minor injuries and was treated at the Oceanside Health Centre

Downtown Nanaimo hotel shows love and appreciation for front-line workers

Coast Bastion illuminates windows in the shape of hearts, hopes other buildings do the same

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

Cowichan Valley man dies in single-vehicle collision

First responders called to Miller Road shortly after midnight on Thursday

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Most Read