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

Just Posted

Solstice will be observed at Nanaimo lakeside retreat

Bethlehem Centre marks longest night of the year Dec. 21

Nanaimo Clippers sniper scores four in blowout win

Josh Bourne leads team to 7-0 victory over Merritt Centennials

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Series of circumstances led to pedestrian being struck by car

The recent incident at Bruce and Albion was not one tragedy, but four, says letter writer

RDN board votes to continue webcasting meetings despite low viewership

Staff to report back to RDN board about live-streamed meetings in time for 2021 budget discussions

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Two-tier health care isn’t right for Canada

We want proper investment in our public system, says letter writer

Nanaimo Clippers sniper scores four in blowout win

Josh Bourne leads team to 7-0 victory over Merritt Centennials

Pacioretty scores 2, Golden Knights top Canucks 6-3

Vegas goalie Fleury gets win No. 452

Play set on Vancouver Island wins Yellow Point Drama Group contest

Michelle Deines’s The Night Hawks will be produced in fall 2020

Workers at auto dealerships in Nanaimo and Victoria set up picket lines

Sixty GAIN Group detailers, technicians, service advisors went on strike Friday

Nanaimo mechanical engineer writes thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

UPDATED: Transportation Safety Board finishes work at plane crash site, investigation continues

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Most Read