Discontent City campers and advocates meet Tuesday just before the 9 a.m. deadline to vacate that was issued by the City of Nanaimo. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Discontent City campers rally to protest eviction

Residents of Nanaimo homeless camp were given deadline of 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 29, to vacate

UPDATE: Discontent City stays put as no move made yet to evict campers

Discontent City are standing up and saying they don’t want to leave the land they’ve occupied.

Residents of a homeless camp at the corner of Esplanade and Front Street were issued a trespass notice on Friday and the City of Nanaimo advised at that time that the deadline to vacate is 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 29. The city said it has requested the help of RCMP.

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“Displacement is not the answer and asking everyone to disperse back into the city only to be subjected to futher harassment and the daunting and humiliating task of setting up camp every night and packing up every morning is not a solution,” notes a press release distributed Saturday by Mercedes Courtoreille, camp advocate.

The camp was set up May 17 and the next day, the municipality advised it would provide garbage collection and portable toilets. On May 22, city workers, supported by a police presence, removed a gate from the enclosure; Nanaimo RCMP said site access was necessary for safety reason.

RELATED: Discontent City campers don’t plan on leaving

Mayor Bill McKay said last week that nearby Port Place shopping centre was “under siege” with thefts and vandalism. In a letter to City of Nanaimo mayor and council last week, Kim Smythe, president and CEO fof the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, said a contingent of the Discontent City protesters are “opportunistic criminals.”

“They openly steal from local merchants – no illusion of shoplifting, they just grab things and walk away. They threaten and assault merchants and employees. They use and sell drugs openly,” the letter reads.

Coun. Gord Fuller said he did not vote in last week’s decision regarding tent city due to a potential conflict of interest.

“The lawyer for tent city is also a lawyer for me, with another thing,” he said. “So, I wasn’t able to be involved with that decision, but I would have liked to have been so I could have brought forward some other ideas.”

Fuller explained that while the organizers might be well-intentioned, there are problems within Discontent City and that tent cities generally aren’t successful.

“You can be as well meaning as you want, as some of these people who are organizing this are, but the problems are already there,” he said.

Fuller said he’s been speaking with business owners in the area around Discontent City and has heard concerns about shoplifting.

“I actually witnessed someone shoplift out of London Drugs and take the goods to tent city because London Drugs was too busy with another shoplifter and couldn’t deal with that one,” he said.

Mike Pindar, one of the campers, said the reports of thefts are BS and the press release from Discontent City said that “this camp is the only safe option at this point and after over a week, we have proved we are well-organized, can keep the site very clean and have built a community that runs efficiently.”

More to come

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