Discontent City advocate Mercedes Courtoreille and resident Mike Pindar say the campers don’t plan on leaving, even after the City of Nanaimo has issued a trespass notice at the site at Esplanade and Front Street. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Discontent City advocate Mercedes Courtoreille and resident Mike Pindar say the campers don’t plan on leaving, even after the City of Nanaimo has issued a trespass notice at the site at Esplanade and Front Street. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

UPDATE: Discontent City campers don’t plan on leaving

City of Nanaimo issues trespass notice at downtown homeless camp

Nanaimo city council has decided it won’t allow Discontent City campers to remain where they are, but camp organizers say they won’t leave voluntarily.

The City of Nanaimo released a statement Friday afternoon advising that city council, at an in camera meeting, passed a motion requesting Discontent City campers vacate the 1 Port Dr. property within 72 hours. The city says it has requested the RCMP’s assistance. Failure to comply with the trespass notice could result in ticketing, enforcing the Trespass Act or a court injunction, the city notes.

According to the statement, occupants at the site have been provided with information about areas of the city in which they are permitted to seek overnight shelter.

Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay told the News Bulletin that the informal settlers at Discontent City are trespassing and must vacate the property.

“Some of those folks are activists and they are not homeless, others are folks who simply want a safe place to be and hopefully we will come up with some alternative locations for them,” he said.

Mercedes Courtoreille, a camp advocate, said the government doesn’t protect people experiencing homelessness and that’s why they’ve had to create their own community for safety and survival.

“It’s unfortunate that the City of Nanaimo doesn’t see this as an opportunity for homeless people to be safe and supported,” she said. “By removing this camp, or attempting to, they’re not solving homelessness, they’re just pushing people back into the woods and ignoring it again.”

RELATED: Gate taken away from Nanaimo’s Discontent City

She said “we will stay here; we are not leaving,” and said Discontent City is asking the community to rally in support on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., half an hour before the deadline campers have been given to vacate the site.

Mike Pindar, one of the campers, said the Discontent City residents feel strongly about what they’re doing.

“We are not going anywhere until it’s either dealt with or we’re all in handcuffs,” he said. “We’re not here to threaten or to hurt anybody; we don’t want to have any fights with the police or anything like that. It’s all going to be in their hands. Whatever comes, we will deal with.”

Organizers of Discontent City have stated that they have a right to be where they are and have used the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as rationale for their actions. However, McKay said while the organizers appear to be well-versed in the area of law, the city also has a legal team that advises council and staff on the decisions and actions that can be done to deal with the camp.

“It’s a difficult issue,” he said. “There is not a single of member of council who does not have compassion.”

City council’s decision to take action comes as a result of complaints from citizens about increased thefts and vandalism in the Port Place shopping centre area, according to McKay, who said he’s heard stories of individuals stealing from Thrifty Foods.

“I am so disappointed that there is an expectation that the community is going to help all these folks, yet they are out robbing everybody blind,” McKay said. “Port Place is under siege right now.”

Pindar said comments about Discontent City campers stealing from the mall are BS and said he hasn’t seen anyone come through the gate with new things or items they’re trying to sell.

One of the people who has written to mayor and council is Gail Revesz, a resident on Promenade Drive, who told the News Bulletin that residents of Cameron Island have become increasingly concerned for their safety since the camp was established. She said more and more people no longer feel safe to walk across the street to Port Place or along the waterfront and if they complain, they’re labelled as people who don’t have compassion or care.

“I am just frustrated that they always seem to get what they want but if we complain we are the bad ones,” she said. “We’re not elitist by any means. We live on Cameron Island but we’re just ordinary people, living ordinary lives, paying our taxes and it just seems like these people can break the law whenever they want.”

Since returning from vacation with her husband in April, Revesz said she’s noticed significantly more people around her neighbourhood and that it’s increased since Discontent City was established. She said the residents in her neighbourhood feel as if their concerns have been ignored and are hoping that council will take action and address the issues of housing and homelessness sooner rather than later.

“Somebody has to solve this,” she said. “Mayor and council are the ones who are getting paid to solve this.”

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

Just Posted

Uplands Park Elementary School. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported at Uplands Park, McGirr, Dover Bay schools

Contact tracing completed by Island Health, says Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools

Team Canada supporters watch a men’s hockey game on a TV screen at Diana Krall Plaza in February 2010. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Hopefully B.C. hosts Olympics again someday

Letter writer reminisces about 2010 Winter Games and the spirit they brought to the city

The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has asked Nanaimo city council to consider a commercial property tax freeze to help offset negative financial impacts of COVID-19. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo council asks for report on potential one-year commercial property tax freeze

Report based on chamber of commerce proposal to ease COVID-19 stress on business community

Literacy Central Vancouver Island’s IPALS program – parents as literacy supporters in immigrant communities – recently secured another five years of funding from senior levels of government. (Photo submitted)
Literacy program working for immigrant families in Nanaimo

Literacy Central Vancouver Island’s IPALS program sees funding extended another five years

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen to field COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

“Our biggest challenge has been the amount of vaccine,” said FNHA acting chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald. (First Nations Health Authority Facebook photo)
All First Nations on reserve to be vaccinated by end of March: First Nations Health Authority

Vaccinations continuing for B.C. First Nations amid shortages

(Delta Police Department photo)
B.C. youth calls 911 after accruing $7K in online gaming charges

‘Police spoke with the student about appropriate times to call 911’

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

Shannon Davis, manager at Sidney’s Star Cinema, holds up the largest available bag of popcorn available for sale at the theatre. It also also sells four smaller sizes in generating revenue following its closure last fall because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Vancouver Island theatre can’t give you movies, but it can serve popcorn

Sidney’s Star Cinema using popcorn sales to prop up COVID-plagued bottom line

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Most Read