Paramedics respond to a call to tent city on Sunday. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Paramedics respond to a call to tent city on Sunday. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Final arguments made at tent city hearing, court won’t rule immediately

Lawyer says City of Nanaimo is concerned occupants would consume hand sanitizer

The City of Nanaimo is hesitant to provide hand sanitizer to Discontent City because it is concerned that camp occupants might eat it.

The revelation was made during the rebuttal stage of a two-day petition hearing in the Supreme Court of British Columbia at the Nanaimo courthouse on Wednesday afternoon involving the City of Nanaimo and Discontent City.

RELATED: Discontent City argues that it’s keeping occupants safe

RE:ATED: Hearing begins to determine fate of Nanaimo’s Discontent City

Troy DeSouza, the city’s attorney, said the city has followed orders from Island Health except for providing hand sanitizer to Discontent City because the occupants may eat it, which drew laughter from the crowd.

“The issue on the hand sanitizer, which continued to be discussed because hand sanitizer has alcohol in it my lord and so there is a concern, frankly, for the health and safety of the occupants, that will be consumed rather than used,” said DeSouza who made the comments while rebutting earlier claims from Noah Ross, tent city attorney, that the city has not followed orders from Island Health.

During the final portion of the hearing, DeSouza refuted various arguments made by Ross earlier. He said organizers of Discontent City have “no authority” to make decisions about what happens on Port Drive because they do not own the land.

“If they choose to make decisions on land use in the city, there will be an election in October, they should run for office and get elected,” he said.

There have been two overdose deaths at Discontent City, according to DeSouza, who said one of those deaths is unconfirmed. He also said it is better to have homeless individuals scattered throughout the city rather than all at one location.

“This conglomeration and concentration is harmful, in my submission, to the community surrounding it and there is evidence for that, but it is also arguably harmful for those choosing to live there,” DeSouza said, adding that there are children there and fire issues and it is not a long-term solution.

DeSouza also mentioned a series of e-mails between tent city’s attorney and Allan Millbank, the city’s fire inspector, in which they discuss what is considered a fire safety risk, as an example of Discontent City not complying with regulations.

“Part of the problem with fire safety my lord, has been this back and forth between Mr. Millbank and Mr. Ross’s office over what constitutes as a fire safety risk … Rather than comply with the order or orders it is challenging the orders and so what tends to happen there my lord is that he provides the campers, the occupants with reasons not to comply with the order,” DeSouza said.

Near the end of the hearing, Ross was allowed to comment on some of the rebuttal points raised by DeSouza. He said it’s potentially “out of stigma” that the city would think people would consume hand sanitizer, adding that the courthouse has hand sanitizer with alcohol in it .

“I would note in the alcoholic form is considered safe for use in the courthouse and much of the similar population is in the courthouse,” Ross said.

At the end of the hearing Justice Skolrood thanked the lawyers and said he will be making a decision, but didn’t disclose when that could happen.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Ross said he was happy with how the hearing went. He said the e-mail conversations between himself and Millbank that were referenced by DeSouza during the hearing had to do with tarps at Discontent City.

“There has been an ongoing dialogue between my office and Mr. Millbank about whether or not tarps are allowed at camp,” Ross said. “He has maintained, from the start, that tarps should not be allowed and I have been trying to make a distinction that the tarps that are at camp are camping tarps that are generally approved for use in camping situations.”

DeSouza told the News Bulletin he couldn’t comment further on the issue of hand the issue of hand sanitizer at the camp, explaining that city staff are in a better position to comment on the situation, but was pleased with how the two-day hearing went.

“We feel very happy with completing the case … within the two-day estimate that city provided from the very outset,” DeSouza said, adding that he has no idea when a ruling will be issued.

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 RCMP are looking for Peter Ludvigson who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo man wanted, police say he violated terms of his release

Warrant out for 45-year-old Peter Ludvigson

Nanaimo’s Fiddelium fiddle ensemble, seen here at a fiddle workshop with visiting instructors Gordon Stobbe and J.J. Guy this summer, is recording its first album. (Photo courtesy Trish Horrocks)
Nanaimo youth fiddle ensemble Fiddelium recording first album

Fiddlers recording their parts one at a time in observance of COVID-19 safety

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man with alleged stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Emergency crews were called to a three-vehicle crash Monday morning on the old Island Highway close to Rock City Road. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Car, pickup and semi truck crash along the highway in Nanaimo

Incident happened in front of Rock City Plaza on Monday morning

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Emergency crews were called to a three-vehicle crash Monday morning on the old Island Highway close to Rock City Road. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Car, pickup and semi truck crash along the highway in Nanaimo

Incident happened in front of Rock City Plaza on Monday morning

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read